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November 1923 


December 1924 


Revised October 1925 


November 1926 


Revised February 1929 


May 1931 

Reprinted in The Oxford Bookshelf May 193G 



Das Schaudern ist der Menschheit bestes Teil. 
Wie auch die Welt ihm das Gefiihl verteuere, 
Ergriffen fiihlt er tief das Ungeheuere. 










Creature-Feeling 8 



1. The Element of Awefulness . . 13 

2. The Element of Overpoweringness . 20 

3. The Element of Energy or Urgency . 23 

4. The Wholly Other .... 25 


The Law of the Association of Feelings 43 


Schematization 46 


Sin and Atonement 52 


1. Direct Means 62 

2. Indirect Means ..... 64 

3. Means by which the Numinous is ex 

pressed in Art 68 















I. Chrysostom on the Inconceivable in God . 183 

II. The Numinous in Poetry, Hymn, and Liturgy 191 

III. Original Numinous Sounds .... 194 

IV. Spirit and * Soul as Numinous Entities . 198 
V. The Supra-Personal in the Numinous . . 201 

VI. The Mystical Element in Luther s Conception 

of Faith 209 

VII. Signs Following 212 

VIII. Silent Worship ... 216 

IX. A Numinous Experience of John Ruskin . 221 

X. The Expression of the Numinous in English 222 
XI. The Mysterlum Tremendum in Robertson and 

Watts 226 

XII. The Resurrection as a Spiritual Experience . 228 
XIII. Religious Essays, A Supplement to The Idea of 

the Holy (O.U.P.) : table of contents . . 235 

INDEX 237 


IN this book I have ventured to write of that which may 
be called non-rational or supra-rational in the depths of 
the divine nature. I do not thereby want to promote in any 
way the tendency of our time towards an extravagant and 
fantastic irrationalism , but rather to join issue with it in its 
morbid form. The irrational is to-day a favourite theme of 
all who are too lazy to think or too ready to evade the 
arduous duty of clarifying their ideas and grounding their 
convictions on a basis of coherent thought. This book, 
recognizing the profound import of the non-rational for meta- 
physic, makes a serious attempt to analyse all the more 
exactly the feeling which remains where the concept fails, 
and to introduce a terminology which is not any the more 
loose or indeterminate for having necessarily to make use of 

Before I ventured upon this field of inquiry I spent many 
years of study upon the rational aspect of that supreme 
Reality we call God , and the results of my work are 
contained in my books, Naturalietische und religiose Welt- 
antacid (Eng. Tr. Naturalism and Religion , London, 1907), and 
Die Kant-friesisclie Religions-Philosophic. And I feel that no 
one ought to concern himself with the Numen ineflabile 
who has not already devoted assiduous and serious study to 
the Ratio aeterna . 

This foreword gives me a very welcome opportunity to 
express my thanks to the translator for his care, his remark 
able delicacy of interpretation, and for the valuable supple 
mentary pages he has added. An English critic has said that 
the translation is much better than the original ; and to this 
I have nothing to object. 




THIS translation of Dr. Rudolf Otto s Das Heiliye has been 
made from the ninth German edition, but certain passages, 
mostly additions to the book in its first form, have been 
omitted with the concurrence of the author. The chief of 
these are certain of the appendixes, especially a long one upon 
Myth and Religion in Wundt s Volkerpsycltologie , and some 
citations in the text from German and other hymns and 
liturgies which, besides defying adequate translation, appeared 
to be of less interest to the English than to the German 
reader. On the other hand, I would refer the English reader 


to the brief appendix (No. X) that I have ventured to add, 
in which I have noted some points relevant to the subject 
discussed in the book suggested by the usage of English words, 
and added one or two illustrative passages from English 

My warmest thanks are due to the author, not only for the 
many corrections he has made in the text of the translation, 
the whole of which he read in manuscript, but more for his 
generous and patient encouragement, without which it would 
have been neither undertaken nor completed. My best thanks 
are also due to the readers of the Oxford University Press for 
many helpful suggestions and corrections in my English text. 
* * * 

In the six years since its first publication in 1917, Das 
lleilifje has already passed through ten editions. At a time 
when circumstances are as adverse to writers and purchasers 
of serious books as they have been for the last few years in 
Germany, this fact would alone suggest that the author s work 
has met a genuine need in his own land ; and any one who has 
followed the movement of religious thought abroad during 
this period is aware that the success of his book is much more 


than a mere vogue, and that it is exerting no little influence 
upon religious thought in Germany and North Europe at 
the present time. It may be of interest to consider briefly 
where its chief significance may be found from the point 
of view of the English reader. 

One of the most unmistakable points of contrast between 
the thought of to-day and that of the later nineteenth century 
is the increased comprehensiveness and adequacy with which 
the study of religion is being pursued. Not only has the older, 
harder, more dogmatic tone on all sides given place to one 
more tolerant and sympathetic, but the study of religion has 
come to claim a much wider reference and to draw material 
from far more diverse sources than would at one time have 
been recognized ; and the frontiers of the subject have been 
enormously extended in consequence. Anthropology, Sociology, 
Psychology, and the history and comparative study of religious 
forms and institutions, if they have at once modified and com 
plicated the problems of religious inquiry, have definitely 
increased the range of observations likely to throw light upon 

If we consider only the English-speaking countries, a future 
generation may perhaps judge that no writer did more to 
introduce or render more effective this new spirit in the study 
of religion than William James in his famous Gifford lectures 
on The Varieties of Religious Experience, published just over 
twenty years ago (1902). In any case the title of that book 
might be taken as giving the chief characteristics of that spirit, 
the preoccupation with religion in all its manifold forms as a 
specific experience, rather than as either the vehicle of a system 
of dogma or metaphysics on the one hand or as simply the 
emotional heightening of morality on the other. This latter 
view is well represented by Matthew Arnold, himself in many 
respects a very typical child of his age; and Arnold s well- 
known phrase that the true meaning of religion is " morality 
touched by emotion " is a fair expression of the limita- 


tions and bias of the nineteenth-century mind. It suggests 
the fundamentally rational temper ( rational even when 
attacking rationalism ) of an age interested almost wholly in 
practice and conduct, which, rightly reacting against views 
tending to identify religion with creed and dogma, was content 
to correct them by one that practically reduced it to an ethic. 
It has been justly noted l that such an account leaves un 
answered the question, which to-day so obviously needs asking 
and wliich is in part the theme of this book, what sort of 
feelings or emotions it is by which morality is enkindled into 

For to-day this almost purely rational and ethical approach 
to the study of religion has been abandoned. Modern in 
quiries into the nature of religious experience have indeed 
tended to overweight the opposite scale. Feeling has, perhaps, 
something more than come into its own. Instinct, emotion, 
intuition, the more obscure and the more subjective aspects of 
religious experience it is these that are to-day the main 
centre of interest. The vogue (perhaps now already declining) 
of M. Bergson s philosophy, in which instinct and intuition 
are put in fundamental contrast to, if not actually opposed to, 
rationality and the needs of practical life, has been one, but 
only one, of the influences making in this direction. Equally 
significant is the quite modern interest in Mysticism, which 
owes so much to the admirable works of such writers as Dean 
Inge, Miss Evelyn Underbill, and Baron von Hiigel in this 
country, and Professor Rufus M. Jones in America. In 
Germany, where the popular interest in Mysticism is even 
more recent than it is with us, the same tendency is marked by 
a special leaning towards the study of oriental, and especially 
of Indian, religions. There, as here, a constant stream of books 
indicates how widely held is the conviction that there are 
essential elements in religion which are not to be comprised in 

1 C. C. J. Webb, Problems in the Delations of God and Man (1911), 

p. 4. 


any systematically thought-out fabric of ideas, nor wholly 
exhausted in practice and conduct elements which, if they 
admit of expression at all, can find it only in symbolism and 

If, as one suspects, there are already signs of a new reaction 
against the possible over-emphasis of what may be called, for 
want of a better single term, the elements of feeling in 
religion, such a movement of criticism need not be regretted. 
We may note at any rate two points in which it may prove 

In the first place, it has been urged, not altogether unjustly, 
that some modern students of religion, and especially of religion 
in its mystical forms, have been misled by their interest in 
the experiences of exceptional men into a distorted account of 
religion as a whole. They do not see the wood for the trees ; 
or, more accurately, they fail to get a true view of the common 
nature of the trees in their structure and growth through 
an undue preoccupation with certain particularly striking 
examples. It is easy (so it may be urged) to pursue the 
varieties so far as to neglect the identities of religious expe 
rience, those fundamental elements which distinguish it as 
religious from experience of other kinds. Mystical experience 
is surely after all something exceptional. Religion is some 
thing wider than Mysticism. Yet sometimes one gets the 
impression that the non-mystic is only rather grudgingly 
and half-heartedly admitted to have any first-hand genuine 
religious experience at all. The abnormal is often the more 
interesting, the more fascinating study, but it ought not on 
that account to be allowed to usurp the place of the normal ; 
and this, it may be suggested, is one mistake to which the 
modern comprehensive, fertile, and far-casting study of religion 
is prone. 

This is one possible point of criticism. A second would 
emphasize the danger of subjectivism. It is possible to devote 
our attention to religious experience in a sense which would 


almost leave out of account the object of which it is an 
experience. We may so concentrate upon the feeling , that 
the objective cause of it may fall altogether out of sight. Is 
religious experience essentially just a state of mind, a feeling, 
whether of oppression or of exaltation, a sense of sin or an 
assurance of salvation ; or is it not rather our apprehension 
of the divine , meaning by that term at least something 
independent of the mental and emotional state of the moment 
of experience 1 In short, it is suggested that by a one-sided 
over-emphasis of the subjective aspect of it the matter of our 
study may cease to be religion and come to be merely 
1 religiosity , to employ a word which, commoner in German 
than in English, might well be better acclimatized in our 

The enlarged and emancipated study of religion character 
istic of to-day has sometimes given just ground for these two 
criticisms. It has not always avoided exaggerating the 
exceptional experience at the expense of the normal ; and it 
has perhaps not infrequently allowed itself to become so far 
absorbed in the subjective states of mind manifested in religious 
experience as to ignore or half ignore the objective significance 
of them. 

It is not least in reference to these two points that the value 
of Dr. Otto s volume lies. He is concerned tg^gxamine the 
nature of those elements in the religious experience which lie 
outside and beyond the scope of reason which cannot be 
comprised in ethical or rational conceptions, but which none 
the less as feelings cannot be disregarded by any honest 
inquiry. And his argument shows in the first place that in all 
the forms which religious experience may assume and has as 
sumed, so far as these can be re-interpreted in polytheistic and 
monotheistic cults, non-mystical and mystical worship alike- 
certain basic moments of feeling (again a word of which 
our language might well make fuller use) are always found 
to recur. All genuine religion exhibits these characteristic 


reactions in consciousness. They are seen emerging as 
religion itself emerges, and we are shown their antecedents in 
the crude and savage stages of pre-religion , in magic and in 
the world of primitive superstition. For this inquiry the author 
not only draws upon his long familiarity with the theories of 
the anthropologists and the literature of Naturalism, 1 but also 
lays under contribution his great erudition in the history of 
religious development in all its varieties. He has ransacked 
the ages, spoiled the climes . The remote Mosaic and pre- 
Mosaic religion of Israel, the Hebrew prophets, and modern 
Judaism; the religions of Greece and Rome and Islam, of 
China and of India; the New Testament, the Fathers, the 
medieval mystics, the reformers, and modern Protestantism: 
the author calls them all as witnesses. He makes particularly 
effective use of examples drawn from India through his 
familiarity with Sanskrit and the great classics of Hinduism. 
His argument, while laying due stress on the essential 
differences between religions, emphasizes and establishes their 
no less fundamental kinship on the side of feeling; and 
Mysticism, especially, falls into its proper place as neither 
a morbid freak nor the sole true fruit of religion, but as differ 
ing from other forms of religious experience not so much in 
its essential nature as in the degree in which it stresses and 
overstresses certain common elements shared with them. 

But of still more significance is the author s argument in 
relation to the second of the two points already mentioned 
the question of subjectivism. Here we are shown that the 
religious feeling properly involves a unique kind of appre 
hension, sui generis, not to be reduced to ordinary intellectual 
or rational knowing with its terminology of notions and 
concepts, and yet and this is the paradox of the matter 
itself a genuine knowing , the growing awareness of an object, 

1 His book, Natunilistische und religiose Weltansicht (The Naturalistic 
and the Religious View of the World), has been translated into English 
under the title Naturalism and Religion, 1907. 


deity. All the feelings and emotions that recur the same 
through all their diversities of manifestation in different 
religions are shown to be just the reflection in human feeling 
of this awareness, as it changes and grows richer and more 
unmistakable ; a response, so to speak, to the impact upon the 
human mind of the divine , as it reveals itself whether 
obscurely or clearly. The primary fact is the confronta 
tion of the human mind with a Something, whose character 
is only gradually learned, but which is from the first felt 
as a transcendent presence, the beyond , even where it is 
also felt as the within man. Hence the author shows that 
Schleiermacher, who did so much to emphasize the function of 
* feeling in religion, is wrong in starting his account with the 
sense of absolute dependence , for that is to start from what 
is after all secondary and derivative, the reflection in self- 
feeling of this felt presence of the divine. 

The feeling element in religion involves, then, a genuine 
knowing or awareness, though, in contrast to that knowing 
which can express itself in concepts, it may be termed non- 
rational . The feeling of the * uncanny , the thrill of awe or 
reverence, the sense of dependence, of impotence, or of nothing 
ness, or again the feelings of religious rapture and exaltation, 
all these are attempted designations of the mental states 
which attend the awareness of certain aspects of the divine . 
In some religions one may be more prominent and in some 
another ; and different individuals will vary widely in their 
susceptibility to these feelings, or, in Dr. Otto s terminology, 
in the degree and character of their faculty of divination . 
But all of these feelings have a necessary and some a per 
manent place in the developing recognition of the divine 
nature. The particular aspect of it, glimpsed, as it were, in 
each of them, he tries to isolate the better by having recourse 
to a Latin terminology : but such terms as mysterium , 
maiestas , fascinans , are confessedly, like fear , awe , 
love , in their religious application, not so much precise and 


definable concepts as what he calls ideograms , hinting at 
meanings which elude exact formulation. 

A word of explanation and defence (for the English reader 
does not take kindly to fresh word-coinages) may be offered 
in respect to the chief new word introduced by the author. 
Dr. Otto is maintaining the autonomy and uniqueness of a 
particular sort of knowing . Just as the recognition and 
appreciation of beauty cannot be reduced to that of moral 
goodness, just as the beautiful and the good are, in the 
philosopher s phrase, categories in their own right, so, too, it 
is with religion. There, too, we have to deal with a peculiar 
and irreducible kind of apprehension we employ or apply 
a distinct category . The natural term for this would be 
that which stands in the title of this book : the holy , or else 
the sacred . But the meaning of these words is at once too 
lofty and too narrow. Holiness , sanctity , are words which 
are charged with ethical import. 1 A large part, perhaps the 
chief part, of their meaning is moral. This, as the author 
maintains, is necessarily the case, inasmuch as, the better the 
character of deity and the divine becomes known, the more 
intimately it absorbs within itself all the highest moral and 
rational attributes. But though, in our final experience of 
God s Holiness , perfect goodness has an absolutely essential 
and central place, yet there remains a something beyond. 
Holiness or sanctity has an element in it independent of the 
category of the good. And to this the author gives the 
name of the numinous element, from the Latin numen, the 
most general Latin word for supernatural divine power. 
Numinous feeling is, then, just this unique apprehension of 
a Something, whose character may at first seem to have little 
connexion with our ordinary moral terms, but which later 
becomes charged with the highest and deepest moral 
significance. And the holy will be, in Dr. Otto s language, 
a complex category of the numinous and the moral , or, in 

1 See, further, Appendix X. 


one of his favourite metaphors, a fabric in which we have 
the non-rational numinous experience as the woof and the 
rational and ethical as the warp. 

* Numinous and Numen will, then, be words which bear 
no moral import, but which stand for the specific non-rational 
religious apprehension and its object, at all its levels, from the 
first dim stirrings where religion can hardly yet be said to 
exist to the most exalted forms of spiritual experience. And 
then we can keep the words holy and sacred , holiness and 
1 sanctity , to their more usual meaning. 

Dr. Otto is concerned in this volume primarily to establish 
the autonomy and uniqueness of this numinous experience 
to show its essential place in religion and its significance in 
religious development. But so far from claiming that this is 
all, that, for example, mystic intuition* can dispense with the 
knowledge that comes through human reason and moral 
experience, he asserts emphatically the contrary. And in his 
later chapters he makes it clear that for him the supremacy of 
Christianity over all other religions lies in the unique degree 
in which (as he holds) in Christianity the numinous elements, 
such as the sense of awe and reverence before infinite mystery 
and infinite majesty, are yet combined and made one with the 
rational elements, assuring us that God is an all-righteous, 
all-provident, and all-loving Person, with whom a man may 
enter into the most intimate relationship. 

What is maintained in this book is, in fact, that religion is 
something not only natural but also, in the strict sense of the 
word, paradoxical. It is a real knowledge of, and real per 
sonal communion with, a Being whose nature is yet above 
knowledge and transcends personality. This apparent con 
tradiction cannot be evaded by concentrating upon one aspect 
of it and ignoring the other, without doing a real injury to 
religion. It must be faced directly in the experience of 
worship, and there, and only there, it ceases to be a contra 
diction and becomes a harmony. And many who are grateful 


to Dr. Otto for his clear exposition of the unity of Religion 
through all the diversity of religions, and for his emphasis 
upon the objective significance of religious feeling, will be per 
haps still more grateful to him for insisting that both elements 
in the harmony must be preserved. 

For in this, too, the argument of this book has something to 
offer to the thought of to-day. It would hardly be denied that 
the dominant movement of thought in this nearly completed 
first quarter of the twentieth century has been what has 
been called humanistic , and what might better be termed 
* anthropocentric . In religion, as in other domains, we have 
learned to view things, in the phrase of a brilliant exponent of 
this way of thinking, 1 from the human end ; man, an ideal 
humanity, has come to be increasingly our measure. We see 
one example of this in such a popular religious philosophy 
as that of Mr. H. G. Wells, with its virtual apotheosis of 
the spirit of striving mankind and the sharp antagonism it 
introduces between the God in man and the Veiled Being, the 
mysterious Power in Nature. It is only the former who has 
any religious significance for Mr. Wells. In such cases 
a standard less merely ethical may be employed than that 
which the moralistic tendency of the nineteenth century 
demanded, but it is far more a purely human standard. We 
need not repeat the taunt of the later nineteenth-century 
agnosticism which finds nothing in the God of traditional 
orthodoxy but man s giant shadow, hailed divine . 2 To say 
that religious thought to-day is too anthropocentric does not 
mean that it is thus crudely anthropomorphic. But it does 
suggest that by undue preoccupation with the human and the 
personal we may blind ourselves to that transcendent and 
supra-personal character of the deity which cannot be 
surrendered without a real loss to religion. 

Is it possible that once more in this too anthropocentric 

1 Dr. L. P. Jacks. 

3 Sir William Watson, The Unknown God. 


trend in religious thought the tide is on the turn, and that 
men are beginning to feel it insufficient to think of God in 
wellnigh exclusively human terms? One suspects that it may 
be so, and that at any rate a religion which sets God as Person 
and Friend of Man at scarcely disguised enmity with the 
inscrutable power and mysterious tremendousness of nature 
will not for long satisfy the demands of the soul. And those 
who think thus will value all the more an exposition which 
recalls us, as this volume does, to the unsearchable otherness 
as well as to the human likeness of deity. 
* * * 

In this book there are certain features that may be puzzling 
and unfamiliar to some readers. Those unaccustomed to such 
terms may find words like category , a priori , schematize , 
repellent to them. To the general reader the quasi-Kantian 
treatment of this matter or that may be a stumbling-block, 
and to the mystic perhaps foolishness. Again, some may 
find the argument too much of an analysis ; others, too much 
of an apologetic. To some it may seem too logical ; to others, 
too theological. But it is good that our incurable propensity 
to think in compartments, to keep, if we admit them at all, our 
philosophy and theology strangers, should receive a shock now 
and then. And, for the rest, it is surely good that a book 
upon religion should be written by a man who feels that 
religion stands at the very centre and basis of life that the 
divine in man is, in Plato s phrase, the head and the root of 
him and who can make no pretence of viewing his own 
religion from without, as though it meant no more to him than 
any other. For though in so many departments in life it is the 
detached and unprejudiced observer who can best pronounce 
judgement, in this one the paradox must hold that he who 
professes to stand outside religion and view all the religions of 
the world in impartial detachment will never wholly under 
stand any one of them. 

J. W. 11. 

March 1023. 


I HAVE been glad of the opportunity of revision afforded by the 
gratifying welcome which English readers have given to this 
book. The difficulty of stereotype has unfortunately prevented 
me from removing a great many minor typographical irregularities, 
but I have been able to correct a number of inaccuracies in the 
translation. Had it been possible I should have wished further 
to substitute submerged (submergence) for abased (abasement) on 
pp. 10, 18, 20, 36, 52, 92, and to give exuberant (exuberance) as an 
alternative for over- abound ing (over-aboundingness) on pp. 37, 39, 
88, 107. The reader is requested to make these alterations for 

The appendixes of the later editions of Das Hcilige, the con 
tinual multiplication of which had threatened to overwhelm the 
original text, have now been published with additional matter in 
a separate volume entitled Aufsatze das Numinose betreffend (Essays 
concerning the Numinous), and a translation of the table of contents 
of this work has been inserted on p. 235, in order that the reader 
may at least have an inkling in what directions TJte Idea of the 
Holy has been supplemented by these later essays. One of these, 
TJie Eesurrection as a Spiritual Experience, has been added (slightly 
curtailed) to this edition as Appendix XII, so that about two-fifths 
of the Aufsiitze are now included in the present translation. I 
may add that the eleventh German edition of Das Heilige contains 
a good deal of additional matter, mostly citations from various 
authors, which as they illustrate rather than amplify the author s 
argument, it has not been judged worth while to include in this 

May 1925. J. W. H. 


ADDITIONS have been made in this edition at the close of 
chapters VIII and IX (pp. 61 and 69) giving the substance 
of paragraphs added in the fourteenth German edition, from which 
the two English citations forming the new Appendix XI have also 
been taken. 

September 1928. J. W. H. 


IT is essential to every theistic conception of God, and most 
of all to the Christian, that it designates and precisely 
characterizes Deity by the attributes Spirit, Reason, Purpose, 
Good Will, Supreme Power, Unity, Selfhood. The nature of 
God is thus thought of by analogy with our human nature of 
reason and personality ; only, whereas in ourselves we are 
aware of this as qualified by restriction and limitation, as 
applied to God the attributes we use are completed , i.e. 
thought as absolute and unqualified. Now all these attributes 
constitute clear and definite concepts: they can be grasped by 
the intellect; they can be analysed by thought; they even 
admit of definition. An object that can thus be thought con 
ceptually may be termed rational. The nature of deity 
described in the attributes above mentioned is, then, a rational 
nature ; and a religion which recognizes and maintains such 
a view of God is in so far a rational religion. Only on such 
terms is Belief possible in contrast to mere feeling. And of 
Christianity at least it is false that feeling is all, the name 
but sound and smoke ] ; where name stands for conception 
or thought. Rather we count this the very mark and criterion 
of a religion s high rank and superior value that it should 
have no lack of conceptions about God; that it should admit 
knowledge the knowledge that comes by faith of the 
transcendent in terms of conceptual thought, whether those 
already mentioned or others which continue and develop them. 
Christianity not only possesses such conceptions but possesses 
them in unique clarity and abundance, and this is, though not 
the sole or even the chief, yet a very real sign of its superiority 
over religions of other forms and at other levels. This must 
be asserted at the outset and with the most positive emphasis. 

1 Goethe, Faust. 


But, when this is granted, we have to be on our guard 
against an error which would lead to a wrong and one-sided 
interpretation of religion. This is the view that the essence 
of deity can be given completely and exhaustively in sucli 
1 rational attributions as have been referred to above and in 
others like them. It is not an unnatural misconception. We 
are prompted to it by the traditional language of edification, 
with its characteristic phraseology and ideas ; by the learned 
treatment of religious themes in sermon and theological 
instruction ; and further even by our Holy Scriptures them 
selves. In all these cases the rational element occupies the 
foreground, and often nothing else seems to be present at all. 
But this is after all to be expected. All language, in so far as 
it consists of words, purports to convey ideas or concepts ; 
that is what language means ; and the more clearly and 
unequivocally it does so, the better the language. And hence 
expositions of religious truth in language inevitably tend to 
stress the rational attributes of God. 

But though the above mistake is thus a natural one enough, 
it is none the less seriously misleading. For so far are these 
1 rational attributes from exhausting the idea of deity, that 
they in fact imply a non-rational or supra-rational Subject of 
which they are predicates. They are essential (and not 
merely accidental ) attributes of that subject, but they are 
also, it is important to notice, synthetic essential attributes. 
That is to say, we have to predicate them of a subject which 
they qualify, but which in its deeper essence is not, nor indeed 
can be, comprehended in them ; which rather requires com 
prehension of a quite different kind. Yet, though it eludes the 
conceptual way of understanding, it must be in some way or 
other within our grasp, else absolutely nothing could be 
asserted of it. And even Mysticism, in speaking of it as TO 
dpprjTov, the ineffable, does not really mean to imply that 
absolutely nothing can be asserted of the object of the religious 
consciousness ; otherwise, Mysticism could exist only in un 
broken silence, whereas what has generally been a character 
istic of the mystics is their copious eloquence. 

Here for the first time we come up against the contrast 


between Rationalism and profounder religion, and with this 
contrast and its signs we shall be repeatedly concerned in what 
follows. We have here in fact the first and most distinctive 
mark of Rationalism, with which all the rest are bound up. 
It is not that which is commonly asserted, that Rationalism is 
the denial, and its opposite the affirmation, of the miraculous. 
That is manifestly a wrong or at least a very superficial 
distinction. For the traditional theory of the miraculous as 
the occasional breach in the causal nexus in nature by a Being 
who himself instituted and must therefore be master of it 
this theory is itself as massively rational as it is possible to 
be. Rationalists have often enough acquiesced in the possi 
bility of the miraculous in this sense ; they have even them 
selves contributed to frame a theory of it ; whereas anti- 
Rationalists have been often indifferent to the whole controversy 
about miracles. The difference between Rationalism and its 
opposite is to be found elsewhere. It resolves itself rather 
into a peculiar difference of quality in the mental attitude and 
emotional content of the religious life itself. All depends 
upon this : in our idea of God is the non-rational overborne, 
even perhaps wholly excluded, by the rational ? Or conversely, 
docs the non-rational itself preponderate over the rational ? 
Looking at the matter thus, we see that the common dictum, 
that Orthodoxy itself has been the mother of Rationalism, is 
in some measure well founded. It is not simply that Ortho 
doxy was preoccupied with doctrine and the framing of dogma, 
for these have been no less a concern of the wildest mystics. 
It is rather that Orthodoxy found in the construction of 
dogma and doctrine no way to do justice to the non-rational 
aspect of its subject. So far from keeping the non-rational 
element in religion alive in the heart of the religious experi 
ence, orthodox Christianity manifestly failed to recognize its 
value, and by this failure gave to the idea of God a one-sidedly 
intellectualistic and rationalistic interpretation. 

This bias to rationalization still prevails, not only in theology 
but in the science of comparative religion in general, and from 
top to bottom of it. The modern students of mythology, and 
those who pursue research into the religion of primitive man 

B 2 


and attempt to reconstruct the bases or * sources of religion, 
are all victims to it. Men do not, of course, in these cases 
employ those lofty rational concepts which we took as our 
point of departure ; but they tend to take these concepts and 
their gradual evolution as setting the main problem of their 
inquiry, and fashion ideas and notions of lower value, which 
they regard as paving the way for them. It is always in 
terms of concepts and ideas that the subject is pursued, 
natural ones, moreover, such as have a place in the general 

L O 

sphere of man s ideational life, and are not specifically reli 
gious . And then with a resolution and cunning which one 
can hardly help admiring, men shut their eyes to that which 
is quite unique in the religious experience, even in its most 
primitive manifestations. But it is rather a matter for 
astonishment than for admiration ! For if there be any single 
domain of human experience that presents us with something 
unmistakably specific and unique, peculiar to itself, assuredly 
it is that of the religious life. In truth the enemy has often 
a keener vision in this matter than either the champion of 
religion or the neutral and professedly impartial theorist. 
For the adversaries on their side know very well that the 
entire pother about mysticism has nothing to do with 
( reason and rationality . 

And so it is salutary that we should be incited to notice that 
Religion is not exclusively contained and exhaustively com 
prised in any series of rational assertions ; and it is well 
worth while to attempt to bring the relation of the different 
* moments of religion to one another clearly before the mind, 
so that its nature may become more manii est. 

This attempt we are now to make with respect to the quite 
distinctive category of the holy or sacred. 


HOLINESS* the holy is a category of interpretation 
and valuation peculiar to the sphere of religion. It is, indeed, 
applied by transference to another sphere that of Ethics 
but it is not itself derived from this. While it is complex, it 
contains a quite specific element or moment , which sets it 
apart from the Rational in the meaning we gave to that 
word above, and which remains inexpressible an apprjTov or 
iiieffabile in the sense that it completely eludes apprehension 
in terms of concepts. The same thing is true (to take a quite 
different region of experience) of the category of the beautiful. 

Now these statements would be untrue from the outset if 
the holy were merely what is meant by the word, not only 
in common parlance, but in philosophical, and generally even 
in theological usage. The fact is we have come to use the 
words holy, tarred (heilig) in an entirely derivative sense, quite 
different from that which they originally bore. We generally 
take holy as meaning completely good ; it is the absolute 
moral attribute, denoting the consummation of moral goodness. 
In this sense Kant calls the will which remains unwaveringly 
obedient to the moral law from the motive of duty a holy 
will ; here clearly we have simply the perfectly moral will. In 
the same way we may speak of the holiness or sanctity of Duty 
or Law, meaning merely that they are imperative upon conduct 
and universally obligatory. 

But this common usage of the term is inaccurate. It is 
true that all this moral significance is contained in the word 
holy , but it includes in addition as even we cannot but 
feel a clear overplus of meaning, and this it is now our tusk 
to isolate. Nor is this merely a later or acquired meaning; 
rather, holy , or at least the equivalent words in Latin and 


Greek, in Semitic and other ancient languages, denoted first 
and foremost only this overplus : if the ethical element was 
present at all, at any rate it was not original and never con 
stituted the whole meaning of the word. Any one who uses it 
to-day does undoubtedly always feel the morally good to be 
implied in holy ; and accordingly in our inquiry into that 
element which is separate and peculiar to the idea of the holy 
it will be useful, at least for the temporary purpose of the 
investigation, to invent a special term to stand for the holy 
minus its moral factor or moment , and, as we can now add, 
minus its t rational aspect altogether. 

It will be our endeavour to suggest this unnamed Something 
to the reader as far as we may, so that he may himself feel it. 
There is no religion in which it does not live as the real inner 
most core, and without it no religion would be worthy of the 
name. It is pre-eminently a living force in the Semitic religions, 
and of these again in none has it such vigour as in that of the 
Bible. Here, too, it has a name of its own, viz. the Hebrew 
qddosh, to which the Greek ayios and the Latin sanctus, and, 
more accurately still, sacer, are the corresponding terms. It is 
not, of course, disputed, that these terms in all three languages 
connote, as part of their meaning, good, absolute goodness, 
when, that is, the notion has ripened and reached the highest 
stage in its development. And we then use the word holy 
to translate them. But this holy then represents the 
gradual shaping and filling in with ethical meaning, or what 
we shall call the schematization , of what was a unique 
original feeling-response, which can be in itself ethically 
neutral and claims consideration in its own right. And when 
this moment or element first emerges and begins its long 
development, all those expressions (qdddsh, ay* or, sacer, &c.) 
mean beyond all question something quite other than the 
good . This is universally agreed by contemporary criticism, 
which rightly explains the rendering of qddosh by good as 
a mistranslation and unwarranted * rationalization or 
moralization of the term. 

Accordingly, it is worth while, as we have said, to find 
a word to stand for this element in isolation, this extra in 


the meaning of holy above and beyond the meaning of 
goodness. By means of a special term we shall the better be 
able, first, to keep the meaning clearly apart and distinct, and 
second, to apprehend and classify connectedly whatever sub 
ordinate forms or stages of development it may show. For 
this purpose I adopt a word coined from the Latin numen. 
Omen has given us ominous, and there is no reason why from 
numen we should not similarly form a word numinous . 
I shall speak then of a unique numinous category of value 
and of a definitely numinous state of mind, which is always 
found wherever the category is applied. This mental state is 
perfectly sui generis and irreducible to any other; and there 
fore, like every absolutely primary and elementary datum, 
while it admits of being discussed, it cannot be strictly defined. 
There is only one way to help another to an understanding of 
it. He must be guided and led on by consideration and 
discussion of the matter through the ways of his own mind, 
until he reach the point at which the numinous in him perforce 
begins to stir, to start into life and into consciousness. We can 
co-operate in this process by bringing before his notice all that 
can be found in other regions of the mind, already known and 
familiar, to resemble, or again to afford some special contrast 
to, the particular experience we wish to elucidate. Then we 
must add : This X of ours is not precisely this experience, 
but akin to this one and the opposite of that other. Cannot 
you now realize for yourself what it is? In other words our 
X cannot, strictly speaking, be taught, it can only be evoked, 
awakened in the mind ; as everything that comes of the 
spirit must be awakened. 




THE reader is invited to direct his mind to a moment of 
deeply-felt religious experience, as little as possible qualified 
by other forms of consciousness. Whoever cannot do this, 
whoever knows no such moments in his experience, is requested 
to read no further ; for it is not easy to discuss questions of 
religious psychology with one who can recollect the emotions 
of his adolescence, the discomforts of indigestion, or, say, social 
feelings, but cannot recall any intrinsically religious feelings. 
We do not blame such an one, when he tries for himself to 
advance as far as he can with the help of such principles of 
explanation as he knows, interpreting Aesthetics in terms of 
sensuous pleasure, and Religion as a function of the gre 
garious instinct and social standards, or as something more 
primitive still. But the artist, who for his part has an intimate 
personal knowledge of the distinctive element in the aesthetic 
experience, will decline his theories with thanks, and the 
religious man will reject them even more uncompromisingly. 

Next, in the probing and analysis of such states of the soul 
as that of solemn worship, it will be well if regard be paid to 
what is unique in them rather than to what they have in 
common with other similar states. To be rapt in worship is 
one thing; to be morally uplifted by the contemplation of 
a good deed is another ; and it is not to their common features, 
but to those elements of emotional content peculiar to the first 
that we would have attention directed as precisely as possible. 
As Christians we undoubtedly here first meet with feelings 
familiar enough in a weaker form in other departments of 
experience, such as feelings of gratitude, trust, love, reliance, 
humble submission, and dedication. But this does not by any 


means exhaust the content of religious worship. Not in any 
of these have we got the special features of the quite unique 
and incomparable experience of solemn worship. In what does 
this consist 1 

Schleiermacher has the credit of isolating a very important 
element in such an experience. This is the feeling of de- . 
pendence . But this important discovery of Schleiermacher 
is open to criticism in more than one respect. 

In the first place, the feeling or emotion which he really 
has in mind in this phrase is in its specific quality not a * feel 
ing of dependence in the natural sense of the word. As 
such, other domains of life and other regions of experience 
than the religious occasion the feeling, as a sense of personal 
insufficiency and impotence, a consciousness of being determined 
by circumstances and environment. The feeling of which 
Schleiermacher wrote has an undeniable analogy with these 
states of mind : they serve as an indication to it, and its nature 
may be elucidated by them, so that, by following the direction 
in which they point, the feeling itself may be spontaneously 
felt. But the feeling is at the same time also qualitatively 
different from such analogous states of mind. Schleiermacher 
himself, in a way, recognizes this by distinguishing the feeling 
of pious or religious dependence from all other feelings of 
dependence. His mistake is in making the distinction merely 
that between * absolute and relative dependence, and there 
fore a difference of degree and not of intrinsic quality. What 
he overlooks is that, in giving the feeling the name feeling of 
dependence at all, we are really employing what is no more 
than a very close analogy. Any one who compares and con 
trasts the two states of mind irrespectively will find out, 
I think, what I mean. It cannot be expressed by means of any 
thing else, just because it is so primary and elementary a datum 
in our psychical life, and therefore only definable through itself. 
It may perhaps help him if I cite a well-known example, in 
which the precise moment or element of religious feeling of 
which we are speaking is most actively present. When 
Abraham ventures to plead with God for the men of Sodom, 
he says (Genesis xviii. 27) : Behold now, I have taken upon 


me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes. 
There you have a self-confessed feeling of dependence , which 
is yet at the same time far more than, and something other than, 
merely a feeling of dependence. Desiring to give it a name of 
its own, I propose to call it creature-consciousness or creature- 
feeling. It is the emotion of a creature, abased and overwhelmed 
by its own nothingness in contrast to that which is supreme 
above all creatures. 

It is easily seen that, once again, this phrase, whatever it is, 
is not a conceptual explanation of the matter. All that this 
new term, creature-feeling , can express, is the note of self- 
abasement into nothingness before an overpowering, absolute 
might of some kind ; whereas everything turns upon the 
character of this overpowering might, a character which 
cannot be expressed verbally, and can only be suggested 
indirectly through the tone and content of a man s feeling- 
response to it. And this response must be directly experienced 
in oneself to be understood. 

We have now to note a second defect in the formulation of 
Schleiermacher s principle. The religious category discovered 
by him, by whose means he professes to determine the real 
content of the religious emotion, is merely a category of self- 
valuation, in the sense of self-depreciation. According to him 
the religious emotion would be directly and primarily a sort 
of se//-consciousness, a feeling concerning one s self in a special, 
determined relation, viz. one s dependence. Thus, according 
to Schleiermacher, I can only come upon the very fact of God 
as the result of an inference, that is, by reasoning to a cause 
beyond myself to account for my feeling of dependence . 
But this is entirely opposed to the psychological facts of the 
case. Rather, the creature-feeling is itself a first subjective 
concomitant and effect of another feeling-element, which casts 
it like a shadow, but which in itself indubitably has immediate 
and primary reference to an object outside the self. 1 

1 This is so manifestly borne out by experience that it must be about 
the first thing to force itself upon the notice of psychologists analysing 
the facts of religion. There is a certain naivete in the following 
passage from William James s Varieties of Religious Experience (p. 58), 


Now this object is just what we have already spoken of as 
the numinous . For the creature-feeling and the sense of 
dependence to arise in the mind the numen must be 
experienced as present, a numen praesens , as in the case of 
Abraham. There must be felt a something numinous , 
something bearing the character of a numen , to which the 

^ O 

mind turns spontaneously ; or (which is the same thing in 
other words) these feelings can only arise in the mind as 
accompanying emotions when the category of the numinous 
is called into play. 

The numinous is thus felt as objective and outside the self. 
We have now to inquire more closely into its nature and the 
modes of its manifestation. 

where, alluding to the origin of the Grecian representations of the gods, 
he says : As regards the origin of the Greek gods, we need not at pre 
sent seek an opinion. But the whole array of our instances leads to a 
conclusion something like this: It is as if there were in the human con 
sciousness a sense of reality, a feelimj of objective presence, a perception of 
what we may call " something there", more deep and more general than 
any of the special and particular " senses" by which the current psycho 
logy supposes existent realities to be originally revealed. (The italics 
are James s own.) James is debarred by his empiricist and pragmatist 
stand-point from coming to a recognition of faculties of knowledge and 
potentialities of thought in the spirit itself, and he is therefore obliged 
to have recourse to somewhat singular and mysterious hypotheses to 
explain this fact. - But he grasps the fact itself clearly enough and is 
sufficient of a realist not to explain it away. But this feeling of reality , 
the feeling of a numinous object objectively given, must be posited as 
a primary immediate datum of consciousness, and the feeling of depen 
dence is then a consequence, following very closely upon it, viz. a 
depreciation of the subject in his own eyes. The latter presupposes the 


The Analysis of Tremendum . 

WE said above that the nature of the numinous can only be 
suggested by means of the special way in which it is reflected 
in the mind in terms of feeling. Its nature is such that 
it grips or stirs the human mind with this and that deter 
minate affective state. We have now to attempt to give 
a further indication of these determinate states. We must 
once again endeavour, by adducing feelings akin to them for 
the purpose of analogy or contrast, and by the use of metaphor 
and symbolic expressions, to make the states of mind we are 
investigating ring out, as it were, of themselves. 

Let us consider the deepest and most fundamental element 
in all strong and sincerely felt religious emotion. Faith unto 
Salvation, Trust, Love all these are there. But over and 
above these is an element which may also on occasion, quite 
apart from them, profoundly affect us and occupy the mind 
with a wellnigh bewildering strength. Let us follow it up 
with every effort of sympathy and imaginative intuition 
wherever it is to be found, in the lives of those around us, in 
sudden, strong ebullitions of personal piety and the frames of 
mind such ebullitions evince, in the fixed and ordered solemnities 
of rites and liturgies, and again in the atmosphere that clings 
to old religious monuments and buildings, to temples and to 
churches. If we do so we shall find we are dealing with 
something for which there is only one appropriate expression, 
mysterium tremendum. The feeling of it may at times come 
sweeping like a gentle tide, pervading the mind with a tranquil 
mood of deepest worship. It may pass over into a more set 
and lasting attitude of the soul, continuing, as it were, thril- 
lingly vibrant and resonant, until at last it dies away and the 


soul resumes its profane , non-religious mood of everyday 
experience. It may burst in sudden eruption up from the 
depths of the soul with spasms and convulsions, or lead to the 
strangest excitements, to intoxicated frenzy, to transport, and 
to ecstasy. It has its wild and demonic forms and can sink to 
an almost grisly horror and shuddering. It has its crude, 
barbaric antecedents and early manifestations, and again it 
may be developed into something beautiful and pure and 
glorious. It may become the hushed, trembling, and speech 
less humility of the creature in the presence of whom or 
what ? In the presence of that which is a Myttery inexpressible 
and above all creatures. 

It is again evident at once that here too our attempted 
formulation by means of a concept is once more a merely 
negative one. Conceptually mysterium denotes merely that 
which is hidden and esoteric, that which is beyond conception 
or understanding, extraordinary and unfamiliar. The term 
does not deh ne the object more positively in its qualitative 
character. But though what is enunciated in the word is 
negative, what is meant is something absolutely and intensely 
positive. This pure positive we can experience in feelings, 
feelings which our discussion can help to make clear to us, in 
so far as it arouses them actually in our hearts. 

1 . Tit e Ele ment of A iveful ness. 

To get light upon the positive quale of the object of these 
feelings, we must analyse more closely our phrase mysterium 
tremeiulum, and we will begin first with the adjective. 

Tremor is in itself merely the perfectly familiar and natu 
ral emotion of fear. But here the term is taken, aptly enough 
but still only by analogy, to denote a quite specific kind of 
emotional response, wholly distinct from that of being afraid, 
though it so far resembles it that the analogy of fear may be 
used to throw light upon its nature. There are in some 
languages special expressions which denote, either exclusively 
or in the first instance, this fear that is more than fear 
proper. The Hebrew hiqdish (hallow) is an example. To 


keep a thing holy in the heart means to mark it off by 
a feeling of peculiar dread, not to be mistaken for any ordinary 
dread, that is, to appraise it by the category of the numinous. 
But the Old Testament throughout is rich in parallel expres 
sions for this feeling. Specially noticeable is the emdt of 
Yahweh ( fear of God ), which Yahweh can pour forth, 
dispatching almost like a daemon, and which seizes upon a 
man with paralysing effect. It is closely related to the SeTfia 
iraviKov of the Greeks. Compare Exodus xxiii. 27 : I will 
send my fear before thee and will destroy all the people to 
whom thou shalt come . . . ; also Job ix. 34; xiii. 21 ( Let 
not his fear terrify me ; Let not thy dread make me afraid ). 
Here we have a terror fraught with an inward shuddering 
such as not even the most menacing and overpowering created 
thing can instil. It has something spectral in it. 

In the Greek language we have a corresponding term 
in o-e/SaoToy. The early Christians could clearly feel that the 
title o-/3aaT09 (augustus) was one that could not fittingly be 
given to any creature, not even to the emperor. They felt that 
to call a man o-e/Sacrroy was to give a human being a name 
proper only to the numen, to rank him by the category proper 
only to the numen, and that it therefore amounted to a kind 
of idolatry. Of modern languages English has the words 
awe , awef ul , which in their deeper and most special sense 
approximate closely to our meaning. The phrase, he stood 
aghast , is also suggestive in this connexion. On the other 
hand, German has no native-grown expression of its own for 
the higher and riper form of the emotion we are considering, 
unless it be in a word like erschauern , which does suggest it 
fairly well. It is far otherwise with its cruder and more 
debased phases, where such terms as grausen and * Schauer , 
and the more popular and telling gruseln ( grue ), graven , 
and yrasdich ( grisly ), very clearly designate the numinous 
element. In my examination of Wundt s Animism I suggested 
the term Scheu (dread) ; but the special numinous quality 
(making it awe rather than dread in the ordinary sense) 
would then of course have to be denoted by inverted commas. 
Religious dread (or awe ) would perhaps be a better 


designation. Its antecedent stage is daemonic dread (cf. the 
horror of Pan) with its queer perversion, a sort of abortive 
off-shoot, the dread of ghosts . It first begins to stir in the 
feeling of something uncanny , eerie , or weird . It is this 
feeling which, emerging in the mind of primeval man, forms 
the starting-point for the entire religious development in 
history. Daemons and gods alike spring from this root, and 
all the products of mythological apperception or fantasy are 
nothing but different modes in which it has been objectified. 
And all ostensible explanations of the origin of religion in 
terms of animism or magic or folk psychology are doomed from 
the outset to wander astray and miss the real goal of their 
inquiry, unless they recognize this fact of our nature primary, 
unique, underivable from anything else to be the basic factor 
and the basic impulse underlying the entire process of religious 
evolution. 1 

Not only is the saying of Luther, that the natural man cannot 
fear God perfectly, correct from the standpoint of psychology, 
but we ought to go further and add that the natural man 
is quite unable even to shudder (graueu) or feel horror in 
the real sense of the word. For shuddering is something more 
than natural , ordinary fear. It implies that the mysterious 
is already beginning to loom before the mind, to touch the 
feelings. It implies the first application of a category of valua 
tion which has no place in the everyday natural world of 
ordinary experience, and is only possible to a being in whom 
has been awakened a mental predisposition, unique in kind and 

1 Cf. my papers in Thfotogische Riindscliau, 1910, vol. i, on Myth and 
Religion in Wundt s Volkerpsychologie , and in Deutsche Littratiuzeitung, 
1910, No. 38. I find in more recent investigations, especially those of R. R. 
Marett and N. Soderblom, a very welcome confirmation of the positions 
I there maintained. It is true that neither of them calls attention quite 
as precisely as, in this matter, psychologists need to do, to the unique 
character of the religious awe and its qualitative distinction from all 
natural feelings. But Marett more particularly comes within a hair s 
breadth of what I take to be the truth about the matter. Cf. his Thres 
hold of Rel if/ion (London, 1909], and N. Sflderblom s Das Werden df8 
Gottesglaubens (Leipzig, 1915), also my review of the latter in Throl. 
Literaturzeitung, Jan. 1915. 


different in a definite way from any natural faculty. And 
this newly- revealed capacity, even in the crude and violent 
manifestations which are all it at first evinces, bears witness 
to a completely new function of experience and standard 
of valuation, only belonging to the spirit of man. 

Before going on to consider the elements which unfold as the 
tremendum develops, let us give a little further consideration 
to the first crude, primitive forms in which this numinous 
dread or a^ve shows itself. It is the mark which really 
characterizes the so-called Religion of Primitive Man , and 
there it appears as daemonic dread . This crudely nai ve and 
primordial emotional disturbance, and the fantastic images to 
which it gives rise, are later overborne and ousted by more 
highly-developed forms of the numinous emotion, with all its 
mysteriously impelling power. But even when this has long 
attained its higher and purer mode of expression it is possible 
for the primitive types of excitation that were formerly a part 
of it to break out in the soul in all their original naivete and 
so to be experienced afresh. That this is so is shown by the 
potent attraction again and again exercised by the element of 
horror and shudder in ghost stories, even among persons 
of high all-round education. It is a remarkable fact that the 
physical reaction to which this unique dread of the uncanny 
gives rise is also unique, and is not found in the case of any 
natural fear or terror. We say : my blood ran icy cold , 
and my flesh crept . The cold blood feeling may be a 
symptom of ordinary, natural fear, but there is something non- 
natural or supernatural about the symptom of creeping flesh . 
And any one who is capable of more precise introspection must 
recognize that the distinction between such a dread and 
natural fear is not simply one of degree and intensity. The 
awe or dread may indeed be so overwhelmingly great that 
it seems to penetrate to the very marrow, making the man s 
hair bristle and his limbs quake. But it may also steal upon 
him almost unobserved as the gentlest of agitations, a mere 
fleeting shadow passing across his mood. It has therefore 
nothing to do with intensity, and no natural fear passes over 
into it merely by being intensified. I may be beyond all 


measure afraid and terrified without there being even a trace 
of the feeling of uncanniness in ray emotion. 

We should see the facts more clearly if psychology in general 
would make a more decisive endeavour to examine and classify 
the feelings and emotions according to their qualitative differ 
ences. But the far too rough division of elementary feelings 
in general into pleasures and pains is still an obstacle to this. 
In point of fact pleasures no more than other feelings are 
differentiated merely by degrees of intensity ; they show very 
definite and specific differences. It makes a specific difference 
to the condition of mind whether the soul is merely in a state 
of pleasure, or joy, or aesthetic rapture, or moral exaltation, 
or finally in the religious bliss that may come in worship. 
Such states certainly show resemblances one to another, and 
on that account can legitimately be brought under a common 
class-concept ( pleasure ), which serves to cut them off from 
other psychical functions, generically different. But this 
class-concept, so far from turning the various subordinate 
species into merely different degrees of the same thing, can do 
nothing at all to throw light upon the essence of each several 
state of mind which it includes. 

^ Though the numinous emotion in its completest development 
shows a world of difference from the mere daemonic dread , yet 
not even at the highest level does it belie its pedigree or 
kindred. Even when the worship of daemons has long since 
reached the higher level of worship of gods , these gods still 
retain as numina something of the ghost in the impress 
they make on the feelings of the worshipper, viz. the peculiar 
quality of the uncanny and awful , which survives with 
the quality of exaltedness and sublimity or is symbolized by 
means of it. And this element, softened though it is, does 
not disappear even on the highest level of all, where the 
worship of God is at its purest. Its disappearance would be 
indeed an essential loss. The shudder reappears in a form 
ennobled beyond measure where the soul, held speechless, 
trembles inwardly to the furthest fibre of its being. It 
invades the mind mightily in Christian worship with the 
words : Holy, holy, holy ; it breaks forth from the hymn 
of Tersteegen : 



God Himself is present: 
Heart, be stilled before Him : 
Prostrate inwardly adore Him. 

The shudder has here lost its crazy and bewildering note, 
but not the ineffable something that holds the mind. It has 
become a mystical awe, and sets free as its accompaniment, 
reflected in self-consciousness, that creature-feeling that has 
already been described as the feeling of personal nothingness 
and abasement before the awe-inspiring object directly expe 

The referring of this feeling of numinous tremor to its 
object in the numen brings into relief a property of the 
latter which plays an important part in our Holy Scriptures, 
and which has been the occasion of many difficulties, both to 
commentators and to theologians, from its puzzling and baffling 
nature. This is the opyrj (orge), the Wrath of Yahweh, which 
recurs in the New Testament as opy?) 6eov, and which is 
clearly analogous to the idea occurring in many religions of a 
mysterious ira deorum . To pass through the Indian Pantheon 
of Gods is to find deities who seem to be made up altogether 
out of such an opyrj ; and even the higher Indian gods of grace 
and pardon have frequently, beside their merciful, their wrath 
form. But as regards the Wrath of Yahweh , the strange 
features about it have for long been a matter for constant 
remark. In the first place, it is patent from many passages of 
the Old Testament that this Wrath has no concern what 
ever with moral qualities. There is something very baffling 
in the way in which it is kindled and manifested. It is, as 
has been well said, like a hidden force of nature , like stored- 
up electricity, discharging itself upon any one who comes too 
near. It is incalculable and arbitrary . Any one who is 
accustomed to think of deity only by its rational attributes 
must Bee in this * Wrath mere caprice and wilful passion. 
But such a view would have been emphatically rejected by 
the religious men of the Old Covenant, for to them the Wrath 
of God, so far from being a diminution of His Godhead, appears 
as a natural expression of it, an element of holiness itself, 
and a quite indispensable one. And in this they are entirely 


right. This opyr; is nothing but the tremendum itself, 
apprehended and expressed by the aid of a naive analogy from 
the domain of natural experience, in this case from the ordinary 
passional life of men. But naive as it may be, the analogy is 
most disconcertingly apt and striking; so much so that it will 
always retain its value, and for us no less than for the men of 
old be an inevitable way of expressing one element in the 
religious emotion. It cannot be doubted that, despite the 
protest of Schleiermacher and Ritschl, Christianity also has 
something to teach of the Wrath of God . 

It will be again at once apparent that in the use of this 
word we are not concerned with a genuine intellectual c con 
cept , but only with a sort of illustrative substitute for a 
concept. Wrath here is the ideogram of a unique 
emotional moment in religious experience, a moment whose 
singularly daunting and awe-inspiring character must be 
gravely disturbing to those persons who will recognize nothing 
in the divine nature but goodness, gentleness, love, and a sort 
of confidential intimacy, in a word, only those aspects of God / 
which turn towards the world of men. 

This opyrj is thus quite wrongly spoken of as natural 
wrath : rather it is an entirely non- or super-natural, i. e. 
numinous, quality. The rationalization process takes place 
when it begins to be filled in with elements derived from the 
moral reason: righteousness in requital, and punishment for 
moral transgression. But it should be noted that the idea of 
the Wrath of God in the Bible is always a synthesis, in which 
the original is combined with the later meaning that has come 
to fill it in. Something supra-rational throbs and gleams, 
palpable and visible, in the Wrath of God , prompting to 
a sense of terror that no natural an<rer can arouse. 


Beside the Wrath or An r er of Yahweh stands the related 


expression Jealousy of Yahweh . The state of mind denoted 
by the phrase being jealous for Yahweh is also a numinous 
state of mind, in which features of the tremendum pass over 
into the man who has experience of it. 

c 2 


2. The element of Overpower ingness ( majestas ). 

We have been attempting to unfold the implications of that 
aspect of the mysterium tremendum indicated by the adjec 
tive, and the result so far may be summarized in two words, 
constituting, as before, what may be called an ideogram , 
rather than a concept proper, viz. absolute unapproachability . 

It will be felt at once that there is yet a further element 
which must be added, that, namely, of might , power , 
* absolute overpoweringness . We will take to represent this 
the term * majestas , majesty the more readily because any 
one with a feeling for language must detect a last faint trace 
of the numinous still clinging to the word. The tremendum 
may then be rendered more adequately ; tremenda majestas , 
or awef ul majesty . This second element of majesty may 
continue to be vividly preserved, where the first, that of 
unapproachability, recedes and dies away, as may be seen, for 
example, in Mysticism. It is especially in relation to this 
element of majesty or absolute overpoweringness that the 
creature-consciousness, of which we have already spoken, 
comes upon the scene, as a sort of shadow or subjective 
reflection of it. Thus, in contrast to the overpowering of 
which we are conscious as an object over against the self, 
there is the feeling of one s own abasement, of being but 
dust and ashes and nothingness. And this forms the 
numinous raw material for the feeling of religious humility. 1 

Here we must revert once again to Schleiermacher s expres 
sion for what we call creature- feel ing , viz. the feeling of 
dependence . We found fault with this phrase before on the 
ground that Schleiermacher thereby takes as basis and point 
of departure what is merely a secondary effect ; that he sets 
out to teach a consciousness of the religious object only by way 
of an inference from the shadow it casts upon ^//-conscious 
ness. We have now a further criticism to bring against it, 
and it is this. By feeling of dependence Schleiermacher 
means consciousness of being conditioned (as effect by cause), 
and so he develops the implications of this logically enough 

1 Cf. R. R. Marett, The Birth of Humility, in The Tlireshold of Religion, 
2nd ed., 1914. [Tr.] 


in his sections upon Creation and Preservation. On the 
side of the deity the correlate to dependence would thus 
be causality , i. e. God s character as all-causing and all- 
conditioning. But a sense of this does not enter at all 
into that immediate and first-hand religious emotion which we 
have in the moment of worship, and which we can recover in 
a measure for analysis ; it belongs on the contrary decidedly 
to the rational side of the idea of God ; its implications admit 
of precise conceptual determination ; and it springs from quite 
a distinct source. The difference between the feeling of 
dependence of Schleiermacher and that which finds typical 
utterance in the words of Abraham already cited might be 
expressed as that between the consciousness of createdness (Ge- 
Bchaffenheit) and the consciousness of creaturehood (Geschopf- 
lichkeit). In the one case you have the creature as the work 
o-f the divine creative act; in the other, impotence and general 
nothingness as against overpowering might, dust and ashes 
as against majesty . In the one case you have the fact of 
having been created ; in the other, the status of the creature. 
And as soon as speculative thought has come to concern itself 
with this latter type of consciousness as soon as it has come 
to analyse this majesty we are introduced to a set of ideas 
quite different from those of creation or preservation. We 
come upon the ideas, first, of the annihilation of self, and 
then, as its complement, of the transcendent as the sole and 
entire reality. These are the characteristic notes of Mysticism 
in all its forms, however otherwise various in content. For one 
of the chiefest and most general features of Mysticism is just 
this self -depreciation (so plainly parallel to the case of Abra 
ham) the estimation of the self, of the personal 1 , as some 
thing not perfectly or essentially real, or even as mere nullity, 
a self-depreciation which comes to demand its own fulfilment 
in practice in rejecting the delusion of selfhood, and so makes 
for the annihilation of the self. And on the other hand Mysti 
cism leads to a valuation of the transcendent object of its 
reference as that which through plenitude of being stands 
supreme and absolute, so that the finite self contrasted with it 
becomes conscious even in its nullity that I am nought, Thou 


art all . There is no thought in this of any causal relation 
between God, the creator, and the self, the creature. The 
point from which speculation starts is not a consciousness of 
absolute dependence of myself as result and effect of a 
divine cause for that would in point of fact lead to insistence 
upon the reality of the self ; it starts from a consciousness of 
the absolute superiority or supremacy of a power other than 
myself, and it is only as it falls back upon ontological terms 
to achieve its end terms generally borrowed from natural 
science that that element of the tremendum , originally 
apprehended as plenitude of power , becomes transmuted into 
1 plenitude of being . 

This leads again to the mention of Mysticism. No mere 
inquiry into the genesis of a thing can throw any light upon 
its essential nature, and it is hence immaterial to us how 
Mysticism historically arose. But essentially Mysticism is the 
stressing to a very high degree, indeed the overstressing, of 
the non-rational or supra-rational elements in religion ; and it 
is only intelligible when so understood. The various phases 
and factors of the non-rational may receive varying emphasis, 
and the type of Mysticism will differ according as some or 
others fall into the background. What we have been analys 
ing, however, is a feature that recurs in all forms of Mysticism 
everywhere, and it is nothing but the creature-consciousness 
stressed to the utmost and to excess, the expression meaning, 
if we may repeat the contrast already made, not feeling of 
our createdness but feeling of our creaturehood , that is, the 
consciousness of the littleness of every creature in face of that 
which is above all creatures. 

A characteristic common to all types of Mysticism is the 
Identification, in different degrees of completeness, of the 
personal self with the transcendent Reality. This identifi 
cation has a source of its own, with which we are not here 
concerned, and springs from moments of religious experience 
which would require separate treatment. Identification 
alone, however, is not enough for Mysticism ; it must be Iden 
tification with the Something that is at once absolutely 
supreme in power and reality and wholly non-rational. And it 
is among the mystics that we most encounter this element of 


religious consciousness. Rdcejac has noticed this in his Evaai 
sur les fondements de la coimausance mystique (Paris, 1897). 
He writes (p. 90) : 

Le mysticisme commence par la crainte, par le sentiment 
d une domination universelle, invincible, et devient plus tard 
un de sir d union avec ce qui domine ainsi. 

And some very clear examples of this taken from the religious 
experience of the present day are to be found in W.James (op. 
cit., p. G(J) : 

The perfect stillness of the night was thrilled by a more 
solemn silence. The darkness held a presence that was all the 
more felt because it was not seen. I could not any more have 
doubted that lie was there than that I was. Indeed, I felt 
myself to be, if possible, the less real of the two. 

This example is particularly instructive as to the relation of 
Mysticism to the feelings of Identification , for the experience 
here recounted was on the point of passing into it. 1 

3. The Element of Energy or Urgency. 

There is, finally, a third element comprised in those of tre- 
mendum and uiajestas , awefulness and majesty, and this I 
venture to call the urgency or energy of the numinous object. 
It is particularly vividly perceptible in the opyrj or Wrath ; 
and it everywhere clothes itself in symbolical expressions 
vitality, passion, emotional temper, will, force, movement, 2 
excitement, activity, impetus. These features are typical and 
recur again and again from the daemonic level up to the idea 
of the living God. We have here the factor that has every 
where more than any other prompted the fiercest opposition to 
the philosophic God of mere rational speculation, who can 
be put into a definition. And for their part the philosophers 
have condemned these expressions of the energy of the numen, 
whenever they are brought on to the scene, as sheer anthropo 
morphism. In so far as their opponents have for the most 
part themselves failed to recognize that the terms they have 
borrowed from the sphere of human coimtive and affective life 
have merely value as analogies, the philosophers are right to 

1 Compare too the experience on p. 70 : . . . "What I felt on these 
occasions was a temporary loss of my own identity. 
1 The mobilitaj* L)ei of Luctantiua. 


condemn them. But they are wrong, in so far as, this error 
notwithstanding, these terms stood for a genuine aspect of the 
divine nature its non-rational aspect a due consciousness of 
which served to protect religion itself from being rationalized 

For wherever men have been contending for the living 
God and for voluntarism, there, we may be sure, have been 
non-rationalists fighting rationalists and rationalism. It was 
so with Luther in his controversy with Erasmus ; and Luther s 
omnipotentia Dei in his De Servo Arbitrio is nothing but 
the union of majesty in the sense of absolute supremacy 
with this energy , in the sense of a force that knows not stint 
nor stay, which is urgent, active, compelling, and alive. In 
Mysticism, too, this element of energy is a very living and 
vigorous factor, at any rate in the voluntaristic Mysticism, 
the Mysticism of love, where it is very forcibly seen in that 
consuming fire of love whose burning strength the mystic 
can hardly bear, but begs that the heat that has scorched him 
may be mitigated, lest he be himself destroyed by it. And in 
this urgency and pressure the mystic s love claims a per 
ceptible kinship with the opy-q itself, the scorching and con 
suming wrath of God ; it is the same energy , only differently 
directed. Love , says one of the mystics, is nothing else 
than quenched Wrath . 

The element of energy reappears in Fichte s speculations 
on the Absolute as the gigantic, never-resting, active world- 
stress, and in Schopenhauer s daemonic Will . At the same 
time both these writers are guilty of the same error that 
is already found in Myth ; they transfer natural attributes, 
which ought only to be used as ideograms for what is itself 
properly beyond utterance, to the non-rational as real qualifica 
tions of it, and they mistake symbolic expressions of feelings 
for adequate concepts upon which a scientific structure of 
knowledge may be based. 

In Goethe, as we shall see later, the same element of energy 
is emphasized in a quite unique way in his strange descriptions 
of the experience he calls daemonic . 


Ein begriffener Gott ist kein Gott. 
A God comprehended is no God. (TERSTEEGEN.) 

WE gave to the object to which the numinous consciousness 
is directed the name mysterium tremendum , and we then 
set ourselves first to determine the meaning of the adjective 
1 tremendum which we found to be itself only justified by 
analogy because it is more easily analysed than the sub 
stantive idea mysterium . We have now to turn to this, 
and try, as best we may, by hint and suggestion, to get to 
a clearer apprehension of what it implies. 

4. The Wholly Other . 

It might be thought that the adjective itself gives an 
explanation of the substantive ; but this is not so. It 
is not merely analytical ; it is a synthetic attribute to it ; 
i.e. tremendum adds something not necessarily inherent in 
mysterium . It is true that the reactions in consciousness 
that correspond to the one readily and spontaneously over 
flow into those that correspond to the other ; in fact, any 
one sensitive to the use of words would commonly feel that 
the idea of mystery (mysterium) is so closely bound up with 
its synthetic qualifying attribute aweful (tremendum) that 
one can hardly say the former without catching an echo of 
the latter, mystery almost of itself becoming aweful 
mystery to us. But the passage from the one idea to the 
other need not by any means be always so easy. The elements 
of meaning implied in awefulness and rnysteriousnefis are 
in themselves definitely different. The latter may so far 
preponderate in the religious consciousness, may stand out so 


vividly, that in comparison with it the former almost sinks out 
of sight ; a case which again could be clearly exemplified from 
some forms of Mysticism. Occasionally, on the other hand, 
the reverse happens, and the tremendurn may in turn occupy 
the mind without the mysterium . 

This latter, then, needs special consideration on its own 
account. We need an expression for the mental reaction 
peculiar to it ; and here, too, only one word seems appropriate 
though, as it is strictly applicable only to a natural state of 
mind, it has here meaning only by analogy : it is the word 
stupor . Stupor is plainly a different thing from tremor ; it 
signifies blank wonder, an astonishment that strikes us dumb, 
amazement absolute. 1 Taken, indeed, in its purely natural 
sense, mysterium would first mean merely a secret or a 
mystery in the sense of that which is alien to us, uncom- 
prehended and unexplained ; and so far mysterium is itself 
merely an ideogram, an analogical notion taken from the 
natural sphere, illustrating, but incapable of exhaustively 
rendering, our real meaning. Taken in the religious sense, 
that which is mysterious is to give it perhaps the most 
striking expression the wholly other (Qdrepov, anyad, alie- 
num), that which is quite beyond the sphere of the usual, 
the intelligible, and the familiar, which therefore falls quite 
outside the limits of the canny , and is contrasted with it, 
filling the mind with blank wonder and astonishment. 

This is already to be observed on the lowest and earliest 
level of the religion of primitive man, where the numinous 
consciousness is but an inchoate stirring of the feelings. What 
is really characteristic of this stage is not as the theory of 

: Compare also olstupefacere . Still more exact equivalents are the 
Greek&i/ijSos 1 and Qa^dv. The sound 6ap.^(thamb) excellently depicts this 
state of mind of blank, staring wonder. And the difference between the 
moments of stupor and tremor is very finely suggested by the pas 
sage, Mark x. 32 (cf. infra, p. 1C3). On the other hand, what was said above 
of the facility and rapidity with which the two moments merge and 
blend is also markedly true of 0a^/3o9, which then becomes a classical 
term for the (ennobled) awe of the numinous in general. So Mark xvi. 
5 is rightly translated by Luther und sie entsetzten sich , and by the 
English Authorized Version and they were affrighted . 


Animism would have us believe that men are here concerned 
with curious entities, called souls or spirits , which happen 
to be invisible. Representations of spirits and similar con 
ceptions are rather one and all early modes of rationalizing 
a precedent experience, to which they are subsidiary. They 
are attempts in some way or other, it little matters how, to guess 
the riddle it propounds, and their effect is at the same time 
always to weaken and deaden the experience itself. They are 
the source from which springs, not religion, but the rationaliza 
tion of religion, which often ends by constructing such a 
massive structure of theory and such a plausible fabric of 
interpretation, that the mystery is frankly excluded. 1 Both 
imaginative Myth , when developed into a system, and intel- 
lectualist Scholasticism, when worked out to its completion, 
are methods by which the fundamental fact of religious 
experience is, as it were, simply rolled out so thin and flat 
as to be finally eliminated altogether. 

Even on the lowest level of religious development the 
essential characteristic is therefore to be sought elsewhere 
than in the appearance of spirit representations. It lies 
rather, we repeat, in a peculiar moment of consciousness, to 
wit, the stupor before something wholly other , whether 
such an other be named spirit or daemon or deva , or 
be left without any name. Nor does it make any difference 
in this respect whether, to interpret and preserve their 
apprehension of this other , men coin original imagery of 
their own or adapt imaginations drawn from the world of 
legend, the fabrications of fancy apart from and prior to any 
stirrings of daemonic dread. 


In accordance with laws of which we shall have to speak 
again later, this feeling or consciousness of the wholly other 
will attach itself to, or sometimes be indirectly aroused by 
means of, objects which are already puzzling upon the natural 
plane, or are of a surprising or astounding character; such as 
extraordinary phenomena or astonishing occurrences or things 

1 A Kpirit or fcoul that has been conceived and comprehended no 
longer prompts to shuddering , as is proved b) Spiritualism. But it 
thereby ceaaes to be of interest for the psychology of religion. 


in inanimate nature, in the animal world, or among men. But 

7 O 

here once more we are dealing with a case of association 
between things specifically different the numinous and the 
natural moment of consciousness and not merely with 
the gradual enhancement of one of them the natural till 
it becomes the other. As in the case of natural fear and 
1 daemonic dread already considered, so here the transition 
from natural to daemonic amazement is not a mere matter of 
degree. But it is only with the latter that the complementary 
expression mysterium perfectly harmonizes, as will be felt 
perhaps more clearly in the case of the adjectival form 
mysterious . No one says, strictly and in earnest, of a piece 
of clockwork that is beyond his grasp, or of a science that he 
cannot understand : That is " mysterious " to me. 

It might be objected that the mysterious is something 
which is and remains absolutely and invariably beyond our 
understanding, whereas that which merely eludes our under 
standing for a time but is perfectly intelligible in principle 
should be called, not a mystery , but merely a problem . 
But this is by no means an adequate account of the matter. 
The truly mysterious object is beyond our apprehension and 
comprehension, not only because our knowledge has certain 
irremovable limits, but because in it we come upon something 
inherently wholly other , whose kind and character are in 
commensurable with our own, and before which we therefore 
recoil in a wonder that strikes us chill and numb. 1 

This may be made still clearer by a consideration of that 
degraded offshoot and travesty of the genuine numinous 
dread or awe, the fear of ghosts. Let us try to analyse this 
experience. We have already specified the peculiar feeling- 

1 In Confessions, ii. 9. 1, Augustine very vstrikingly suggests this stiffen 
ing, benumbing element of the wholly other and its contrast to the 
rational aspect of the numen ; the dissimile and the simile . 

Quid est illud, quod interlucet mihi et percutit cor nieum sine laesione ? 
Et inhorresco et inardesco. Inhorresco, in quantum dissimilis ei sum. 
Inardesco, in quantum similis ei sum. 

( VVhat is that which gleams through me and smites my heart without 
wounding it ? I am both a-shudder and a-glow. A-shudder, in so far as 
I am unlike it, a-glow in so far as I am like it. ) 


element of dren<l aroused by the ghost as that of grue , 
grisly horror (gruseln, graven). Now this grue obviously 
contributes something to the attraction which ghost-stories 
exercise, in so far, namely, as the relaxation of tension ensuing 
upon our release from it relieves the mind in a pleasant and 
agreeable way. So far, however, it is not really the ghost 
itself that gives us pleasure, but the fact that we are rid of it. 
But obviously this is quite insufficient to explain the ensnaring 
attraction of the ghost-story. The ghost s real attraction 
rather consists in this, that of itself and in an uncommon 
degree it entices the imagination, awakening strong interest 
and curiosity ; it is the weird thing itself that allures the 
fancy. But it does this, not because it is something long 
and white (as some one once defined a ghost), nor yet through 
any of the positive and conceptual attributes which fancies 
about ghosts have invented, but because it is a thing that 
doesn t really exist at all , the wholly other , something 
which has no place in our scheme of reality but belongs to an 
absolutely different one, and which at the same time arouses 
an irrepressible interest in the mind. 

But that which is perceptibly true in the fear of ghosts, which 
is, after all, only a caricature of the genuine thing, is in a far 
stronger sense true of the daemonic experience itself, of 
which the fear of ghosts is a mere off-shoot. And while, 
following this main line of development, this element in the 
numinous consciousness, the feeling of the wholly other , is 
heightened and clarified, its higher modes of manifestation 
come into being, which set the numinous object in contrast 
not only to everything wonted and familiar (i.e., in the end, 
to nature in general), thereby turning it into the super 
natural , but finally to the world itself, and thereby exalt it to 
the supraraundane , that which is above the whole world-order. 

In Mysticism we have in the Beyond (tTre/caya) again the 
strongest stressing and over-stressing of those non-rational 
elements which are already inherent in all religion. Mysticism 
continues to its extreme point this contrasting of the numinous 
object (the numen), as the wholly other , with ordinary experi 
ence. Not content with coutrastinr it with all that is of 


nature or this world, Mysticism concludes by contrasting it 
with Being itself and all that is , and finally actually calls 
it that which is nothing . By this nothing is meant not 
only that of which nothing can be predicated, but that which 
is absolutely and intrinsically other than and opposite of 
everything that is and can be thought. But while exaggerat 
ing to the point of paradox this negation and contrast the 
only means open to conceptual thought to apprehend the 
mysterium Mysticism at the same time retains the positive 
quality of the wholly other as a very living factor in its 
over-brimming religious emotion. 

But what is true of the strange nothingness of our mystics 
holds good equally of the sunyam and the sunyata , the 
void and emptiness of the Buddhist mystics. This aspira 
tion for the void and for becoming void, no less than the 
aspiration of our western mystics for nothing and for becom 
ing nothing, must seem a kind of lunacy to any one who has 
no inner sympathy for the esoteric language and ideograms of 
Mysticism, and lacks the matrix from which these come neces 
sarily to birth. To such an one Buddhism itself will be simply 
a morbid sort of pessimism. But in fact the void of the 
eastern, like the nothing of the western, mystic is a numinous 
ideogram of the wholly other . 

These terms, supernatural and transcendent (literally, 
supramundane : uberweltlich), give the appearance of positive 
attributes, and, as applied to the mysterious, they appear to 
divest the mysterium of its originally negative meaning 
and to turn it into an affirmation. On the side of conceptual 
thought this is nothing more than appearance, for it is obvious 
that the two terms in question are merely negative and ex 
clusive attributes with reference to nature and the world 
or cosmos respectively. But on the side of the feeling-content 
it is otherwise ; that is in very truth positive in the highest 
degree, though here too, as before, it cannot be rendered 
explicit in conceptual terms. It is through this positive 
feeling-content that the concepts of the transcendent and 
supernatural become forthwith designations for a unique 
wholly other reality and quality, something of whose special 
character we can feel, without being able to give it clear 
conceptual expression. 


THE qualitative content of the numinous experience, to 
which the mysterious stands as/c^-m, is in one of its aspects 
the element of daunting awefulness and majesty , which 
has already been dealt with in detail ; but it is clear that it 
has at the same time another aspect, in which it shows itself 
as something uniquely attractive and fascinating. 

These two qualities, the daunting and the fascinating, now 
combine in a strange harmony of contrasts, and the resultant 
dual character of the numinous consciousness, to which the 
entire religious development bears witness, at any rate from 
the level of the daemonic dread onwards, is at once the 
strangest and most noteworthy phenomenon in the whole 
history of religion. The daemonic-divine object may appear 
to the mind an object of horror and dread, but at the same 
time it is no less something that allures with a potent charm, 
and the creature, who trembles before it, utterly cowed and 
cast down, has always at the same time the impulse to turn to 
it, nay even to make it somehow his own. The mystery is 
for him not merely something to be wondered at but some 
thing that entrances him ; and beside that in it which 
bewilders and confounds, lie feels a something that captivates 
and transports him with a strange ravishment, rising often 
enough to the pitch of dizzy intoxication ; it is the Dionysiac- 
element in the numen. 

The ideas and concepts which are the parallels or schemata 
on the rational side of this non-rational element of fasci 
nation are Love, Mercy, Pity, Comfort; these are all 
natural elements of the common psychical life, only they 
are here thought as absolute and in completeness. But 
important as these are for the experience of religious bliss or 


felicity, they do not by any means exhaust it. It is just the 
same as with the opposite experience of religious infelicity 
the experience of the opyr) or Wrath of God : both alike 
contain fundamentally non-rational elements. Bliss or beati 
tude is more, far more, than the mere natural feeling of being 
comforted, of reliance, of the joy of love, however these may 
be heightened and enhanced. Just as Wrath , taken in 
a purely rational or a purely ethical sense, does not exhaust 
that profound element of awef illness which is locked in the 
mystery of deity, so neither does Graciousness exhaust the 
profound element of wond erf illness and rapture which lies in 
the mysterious beatific experience of deity. The term grace 
may indeed be taken as its aptest designation, but then only 
in the sense in which it is really applied in the language of 
the mystics, and in which not only the gracious intent but 
c something more is meant by the word. This * something 
more has its antecedent phases very far back in the history 
of religions. 

It may well be possible, it is even probable, that in the first 
stage of its development the religious consciousness started 
with only one of its poles the daunting aspect of the numen 
and so at first took shape only as daemonic dread . But 
if this did not point to something beyond itself, if it were not 
but one moment of a completer experience, pressing up 
gradually into consciousness, then no transition would be 
possible to the feelings of positive self-surrender to the numen. 
The only type of worship that could result from this dread 
alone would be that of airaiTt ia-Qai and dirorptTreiv , taking 
the form of expiation and propitiation, the averting or the 
appeasement of the wrath of the numen. It can never explain 
how it is that c the numinous is the object of search and 
desire and yearning, and that too for its own sake and not 
only for the sake of the aid and backing that men expect 
from it in the natural sphere. It can never explain how this 
takes place, not only in the forms of rational religious 
worship, but in those queer sacramental observances and 
rituals and procedures of communion in which the human 
being seeks to get the numen into his possession. 


Religious practice may manifest itself in those normal and 
easily intelligible forms which occupy so prominent a place in 
the history of religion, such forms as Propitiation, Petition, 
Sacrifice, Thanksgiving, &c. But besides these there is a series 
of strange proceedings which are constantly attracting greater 
and greater attention, and in which it is claimed that we may 
recognize, besides mere religion in general, the particular roots 
of Mysticism. I refer to those numerous curious modes of 
behaviour and fantastic forms of mediation, by means of 
which the primitive religious man attempts to master the 
mysterious , and to fill himself and even to identify himself 
with it. These modes of behaviour fall apart into two 
classes. On the one hand the magical identification of the 
self with the numen proceeds by means of various transactions, 
at once magical and devotional in character by formula, ordi 
nation, adjuration, consecration, exorcism, &c. : on the other hand 
are the shamanistic ways of procedure, possession, indwelling, 
Belf-imbuement with the numen in exaltation and ecstasy. All 
these have, indeed, their starting-points simply in magic, and 
their intention at first was certainly simply to appropriate the 
prodigious force of the numen for the natural ends of man. 
But the process does not rest there. Possession of and by the 
numen becomes an end in itself ; it begins to be sought for its 
own sake ; and the wildest and most artificial methods of 
asceticism are put into practice to attain it. In a word, the 
vita religiosa begins; and to remain in these strange and 
bizarre states of numinous possession becomes a good in itself, 
even a way of salvation, wholly different from the profane 
goods pursued by means of magic. Here, too, commences the 
process of development by which the experience is matured 
and purified, till finally it reaches its consummation in the 
eublimest and purest states of the life within the Spirit and 
in the noblest Mysticism. Widely various as these states are 
in themselves, yet they have this element in common, that in 
them the mysterium is experienced in its essential, positive, 
and specific character, as something that bestows upon man 
a beatitude beyond compare, but one whoso real nature ho 
can neither proclaim in speech nor conceive in thought, but 



may know only by a direct and living experience. It is a bliss 
which embraces all those blessings that are indicated or 
suggested in positive fashion by any doctrine of Salvation , 
and it quickens all of them through and through ; but these do 
not exhaust it. Rather by its all-pervading, penetrating glow 
it makes of these very blessings more than the intellect can 
conceive in them or affirm of them. It gives the Peace that 
passes understanding, and of which the tongue can only 
stammer brokenly. Only from afar, by metaphors and 
analogies, do we come to apprehend what it is in itself, and 
even so our notion is but inadequate and confused. 

c Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into 
the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them 
that love Him. Who does not feel the exalted sound of these 
words and the Dionysiac element of transport and fervour 
in them ? It is instructive that in such phrases as these, in 
which consciousness would fain put its highest consummation 
into words, all images fall away* and the mind turns from 
them to grasp expressions that are purely negative. And it is 
still more instructive that in reading and hearing such words 
their merely negative character simply is not noticed ; that we 
can let whole chains of such negations enrapture, even intoxi 
cate us, and that entire hymns and deeply impressive hymns 
have been composed, in which there is really nothing positive 
at all ! All this teaches us the independence of the positive 
content of this experience from the implications of its overt 
conceptual expression, and how it can be firmly grasped, 
thoroughly understood, and profoundly appreciated, purely in. 
with, and from the feeling itself. 

Mere love, mere trust, for all the glory and happiness 
they bring, do not explain to us that moment of rapture that 
breathes in our tenderest and most heart-felt hymns of salva 
tion, as also in such eschatological hymns of longing as that 
Rhyme of St. Bernard in which the very verses seem to dance. 

Urbs Sion unica, mansio mystica, condita caelo, 
Nunc tibi gaudeo, nunc tibi lugeo, tristor, anhelo, 
Te, quia corpore non queo, pectore saepe penetro ; 
Sed caro terrea, terraque carnea, mox cado retro. 


Nemo retexere, nemoque promcre sustinet ore, 
Quo tua moenia, quo capitolia plena nitore. 
Id queo dicere, quo modo tangere pollice coclum, 
Ut mare currere, sicut in acre figere teluni. 
Opprimit omne cor ille tuns decor, O Sion, O Pax. 
Urbs sine tempore, nulla potest fore laus tibi mendax. 
O nova mansio, te pia concio, gens pia munit, 
Provehit, excitat, auget, identitat, em cit, unit. 1 

This is where the living something more of the fascinans , 
the element of fascination, is to be found. It lives no less 
in those tense extollings of the blessing of salvation, which 
recur in all religions of salvation, and stand in such remarkable 
contrast to the relatively meagre and frequently childish 
import of that which is revealed in them by concept or by 
image. Everywhere Salvation is something whose meaning 
is often very little apparent, is even wholly obscure, to the 
natural man ; on the contrary, so far as he understands it, 
he tends to find it highly tedious and uninteresting, sometimes 
downright distasteful and repugnant to his nature, as he 
would, for instance, find the beatific vision of God in our 
own doctrine of Salvation, or the Henosis of God all in all 
among the mystics. So far as he understands , be it noted ; 
but then he does not understand it in the least. Because he 
lacks the inward teaching of the Spirit, he must needs confound 
what is offered him as an expression for the experience of 
salvation a mere ideogram of what is felt, whose import 
it hints at by analogy with natural concepts, as though it 
were itself just such an one. And so he wanders ever 
further from the goal . 

1 Zion, thou cityBole and single, mystic mansion hidden away in the 
heavens, now I rejoice in thee, now I moan for thee and moujn and 
yearn for thee ; Thee often I pass through in the heart, as I cannot in the 
body, but being but earthly flesh and fleshly earth soon I fall back. 
None can disclose or utter in speech what plenary radiance fills thy walls 
and thy citadels. I can as little tell of it as I can touch the skies with 
my finger, or run upon the sea or make a dart stand still in the air. 
This thy splendour overwhelms every heart, Sion, Peace ! time 
less City, no praise can belie thee. O new dwelling-place, thee the 
concourse and people of the faithful erects and exalts, inspires and in 
creases, joins to itself, and makes complete and one. 

D ii 


It is not only in the religious feeling of longing that the 
moment of fascination is a living factor. It is already alive 
and present in the moment of solemnity , both in the gathered 
concentration and humble abasement of private devotion, 
when the mind is exalted to the holy, and in the common 
worship of the congregation, where this is practised with 
earnestness and deep sincerity, as, it is to be feared, is with us 
a thing rather desired than realized. It is this and nothing 
else that in the solemn moment can fill the soul so full and 
keep it so inexpressibly tranquil. Schleiermacher s assertion l 
is perhaps true of it, as of the numinous consciousness in 
general, viz. that it cannot really occur alone on its own 
account, or except combined and penetrated with rational 
elements. But, if this be admitted, it is upon other grounds 
than those adduced by Schleiermacher ; while, on the other 
hand, it may occupy a more or less predominant place and 
lead to states of calm (rivv^ta) as well as of transport, in 
which it almost of itself wholly fills the soul. But in all the 
manifold forms in which it is aroused in us, whether in 
eschatological promise of the coming kingdom of God and the 
transcendent bliss of Paradise, or in the guise of an entry 
into that beatific Reality that is above the world ; whether 
it come first in expectancy or preintimation or in a present 
experience ( When I but have Thee, I ask no question of 
heaven and earth ) ; in all these forms, outwardly diverse but 
inwardly akin, it appears as a strange and mighty propulsion 
toward an ideal good known only to religion and in its nature 
fundamentally non-rational, which the mind knows of in 
yearning and presentiment, recognizing it for what it is behind 
the obscure and inadequate symbols which are its only 
expression. And this shows that above and beyond our 
rational being lies hidden the ultimate and highest part of our 
nature, which can find no satisfaction in the mere allaying of 
the needs of our sensuous, psychical, or intellectual impulses 
and cravings. The mystics called it the basis or ground of 
the soul. 

We saw that in the case of the element of the mysterious the 
1 Glaubenslehre, 5. 


c wholly other led on to the supernatural and transcendent 
and that above these appeared the beyond (eVc/ccu/a) of Mysti 
cism, through the non-rational side of religion being raised to 
its highest power and stressed to excess. It is the same in 
the case of the element of * fascination ; here, too, is possible 
a transition into Mysticism. At its highest point of stress 
the fascinating becomes the * overabounding \ l the mystical 
moment which exactly corresponds upon this line to the 
7reAceu a upon the other line of approach, and which is to be 
understood accordingly. But while this feeling of the over- 
abounding is specially characteristic of Mysticism, a trace of 
it survives in all truly felt states of religious beatitude, how 
ever restrained and kept within measure by other factors. 
This is seen most clearly from the psychology of those great 
experiences of grace, conversion, second birth in which 
the religious experience appears in its pure intrinsic nature 
and in heightened activity, so as to be more clearly grasped 
than in the less typical form of piety instilled by education. The 
hard core of such experiences in their Christian form consists 
of the redemption from guilt and bondage to sin, and we 
shall have presently to see that this also does not occur with 
out a participation of non-rational elements. But leaving this 
out of account, what we have here to point out is the unutter- 
ableness of what has been yet genuinely experienced, and how 
such an experience may pass into blissful excitement, rapture, 
and exaltation verging often on the bizarre and the abnor 
mal. 2 This is vouched for by the autobiographical testi 
mony of the converted from St. Paul onward. William James 
has collected a great number of these, without, however, 

1 Das UberscJnnngliche. 

2 This may be found fatal to the attempt to construct a Religion 
within the limits of pure reason or of humanity * ; but, none the less, 
the matter is aa we have described it, as far as concerns the psychologi 
cal inquiry into religion, which asks, not what it is within the afore 
mentioned limit*, but what it is in its own essential nature. And for 
that matter this proceeding of constructing a humanity prior to and 
apart from the most central and potent of human capacities is like 
nothing so much as the attempt to frame a standard idea of the human 
body after having previously cut off the head. 


himself noticing the non-rational element that thrills in 

Thus, one writes 

. . . For the moment nothing but an ineffable joy and 
exaltation remained. It is impossible fully to describe the 
experience. It was like the effect of some great orchestra, 
when all the separate notes have melted into one swelling 
harmony, that leaves the listener conscious of nothing save 
that his soul is being wafted upwards and almost bursting 
with its own emotion. ( Varieties, &c., p. 66.) 

And another : 

. . . The more I seek words to express this intimate inter 
course, the more I feel the impossibility of describing the thing 
by any of our usual images. (Ibid., p. 68.) 

And almost with the precision of dogma, a third (Jonathan 
Edwards) indicates the qualitative difference of the experience 
of beatitude from other rational joy : 

The conceptions which the saints have of the loveliness of 
God and that kind of delight which they experience in it are 
quite peculiar and entirely different from anything which a 
natural man can possess or of which he can form any proper 
notion/ (Ibid., p. 229.) 

Cf. also pp. 192, 225; and the testimony of Jacob Boehme 
given on p. 417. Also this of Boehme : 

But I can neither write nor tell of what sort of Exaltation 
the triumphing in the Spirit is. It can be compared with 
nought, but that when in the midst of death life is born, and 
it is like the resurrection of the dead. 

With the mystics these experiences pass up wholly into the 
over-abounding . O that I could tell you what the heart 
feels, how it burns and is consumed inwardly ! Only, I find 
no words to express it. I can but say : Might but one little 
drop of what I feel fall into Hell, Hell would be transformed 
into a Paradise. So says St. Catherine of Genoa ; and all the 
multitude of her spiritual kindred testify to the same effect. 

What we Christians know as the experiences of grace and 
the second birth have their parallels also in the religions 
of high spiritual rank beyond the borders of Christianity. 
Such are the breaking out of the saving Bodhi , the opening 


of the heavenly eye , the Jndna by ISvarae prasdda, 
which is victorious over the darkness of nescience and shines out 
in an experience with which no other can be measured. And 
in all these the entirely non-rational and specific element in 
the beatific experience is immediately noticeable. The quali 
tative character of it varies widely in all these cases, and is 
again in them all very different from its parallels in Chris 
tianity ; still in all it is very similar in intensity, and in all it 
is a salvation and an absolute fascination , which in contrast 
to all that admits of natural expression or comparison is 
deeply imbued with the over-abounding nature of the numen. 

And this is also entirely true of the rapture of Nirvana, 
which is only in appearance a cold and negative state. It is only 
conceptually that Nirvana is a negation ; it is felt in con 
sciousness as in the strongest degree positive ; it exercises a 
fascination by which its votaries are as much carried away 
as are the Hindu or the Christian by the corresponding objects 
of their worship. I recall vividly a conversation I had with 
a Buddhist monk. He had been putting before me methodi 
cally and pertinaciously the arguments for the Buddhist 
1 theology of negation , the doctrine of Anatman and entire 
emptiness . When he had made an end, I asked him, what 
then Nirvana itself is ; and after a long pause came at last the 
single answer, low and restrained : Bliss unspeakable . And 
the hushed restraint of that answer, the solemnity of his voice, 
demeanour, and gesture, made more clear what was meant than 
the words themselves. 

And so we maintain, on the one hand, following the via 
eminentiae et causalitatis , that the divine is indeed the highest, 
strongest, best, loveliest, and dearest that man can think of; 
but we assert on the other, following the via negationis , that 
God is not merely the ground and superlative of all that can 
be thought; He is in Himself a subject on His own account 
and in Himself. 

* : * 

In the adjective Stivos the Greek language possesses a word 
peculiarly difficult to translate, and standing for an idea 
peculiarly difficult to grasp in all its strange variations. And 


if we ask whence this difficulty arises, the answer is plain ; it 
is because 5ety6y is simply the numinous (mostly of course at 
a lower level, in an arrested form, attenuated by rhetorical or 
poetic usage). Consequently 5et*>6y is the equivalent of dirus 
and tremendus . It may mean evil or imposing, potent and 
strange, queer and marvellous, horrifying and fascinating, 
divine and daemonic, and a source of energy . Sophocles 
means to awaken the feeling of c numinous awe through the 
whole gamut of its phases at the contemplation of man, the 
creature of marvel, in the choric song of the Antigone : 

TroXXa TO, Seiva, KovSzv avQp&Trov Stivorepov neXei. 

This line defies translation, just because our language has no 
term that can isolate distinctly and gather into one word the 
total numinous impression a thing may make on the mind. 
The nearest that German can get to it is in the expression 
* das Ungeheuere (monstrous), while in English weird is 
perhaps the closest rendering possible. The mood and attitude 
represented in the foregoing verse might then be fairly well 
rendered by such a translation as : 

Much there is that is weird ; but nought is weirder than 

The German ungeheuer is not by derivation simply huge , in 
quantity or quality ; this, its common meaning, is in fact a 
rationalizing interpretation of the real idea ; it is that which is 
not geheuer , i. e., approximately, the uncanny in a word, the 
numinous. And it is just this element of the uncanny in man 
that Sophocles has in mind. If this, its fundamental meaning, 
be really and thoroughly felt in consciousness, then the word 
could be taken as a fairly exact expression for the numinous 
in its aspects of mystery, awefulness, majesty, augustness, 
and energy ; nay, even the aspect of fascination is dimly 
felt in it. 

The variations of meaning in the German word ungeheuer 
can be well illustrated from Goethe. 1 He, too, uses the word 

1 Cf. Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre, Bk. I, ch. 10; Wahlveneandtschaf- 
ten, 2. 15 ; Dichtunq und Wahrheit, 2. 9 ; 4. 20. 


first to denote the huge in size what is too vast for our 
faculty of space-perception, such as the immeasurable vault of 
the night sky. In other passages the word retains its original 
non-rational colour more markedly; it comes to mean the 
uncanny, the fearful, the dauntingly other and incomprehen 
sible, that which arouses in us stupor and Od^pos ; and 
finally, in the wonderful words of Faust which I have put 
upon my title-page, it becomes an almost exact synonym for 
our numinous under all its aspects. 

Das Schaudern ist der Menschheit bestes Teil. 
Wie auch die Welt ihm das Gefiihl verteuere, 
Ergritfen fiihlt er tief das Ungeheuere. 1 

1 Awe is the best of man : howe er the world s 
Misprizing of the feeling would prevent us, 
Deeply we feel, once gripped, the weird Portentous. 

(GOETHE, Faust, Second Part, Act I, Sc. v.) 


IN order to give an adequate account of this second aspect 
of the numinous, we were led to add to its original designation 
as mysterium tremendum that it at the same time exercises a 
supreme fascination . And this its dual character, as at once 
an object of boundless awe and boundless wonder, quelling and 
yet entrancing the soul, constitutes the proper positive content 
of the mysterium as it manifests itself in conscious feeling. 
No attempt of ours to describe this harmony of contrasts in 
the import of the mysterium can really succeed ; but it may 
perhaps be adumbrated, as it were from a distance, by taking 
an analogy from a region belonging not to religion but to 
aesthetics. In the category and feeling of the sullime we 
have a counterpart to it, though it is true it is but a pale 
reflexion, and moreover involves difficulties of analysis all its 
own. The analogies between the consciousness of the sublime 
and of the numinous may be easily grasped. 1 To begin with, 
the sublime , like the numinous , is in Kantian language an 
idea or concept that cannot be unfolded or explicated (unaus- 
wickelbar). Certainly we can tabulate some general rational 
signs that uniformly recur as soon as we call an object sublime ; 
as, for instance, that it must approach, or threaten to overpass, 
the bounds of our understanding by some dynamic or 
mathematic greatness, by potent manifestations of force 

1 We are often prone to resort to this familiar feeling-content to fill 
out the negative concept transcendent , explaining frankly God s trans 
cendence by His sublimity . As a figurative analogical description 
this is perfectly allowable, but it would be an error if we meant it literally 
and in earnest. Religious feelings are not the same as aesthetic feelings, 
and the sublime is as definitely an aesthetic term as the beautiful \ 
however widely different may be the facts denoted by the words. 


or magnitude in spatial extent. But these are obviously 
only conditions of, not the essence of, the impression of sub 
limity. A thing does not become sublime merely by being 
great. The concept itself remains unexplicated ; it has in 
it something mysterious, and in this it is like that of 
1 the numinous . A second point of resemblance is that the 
sublime exhibits the same peculiar dual character as the 
numinous; it is at once daunting, and yet again singularly 
attracting, in its impress upon the mind. It humbles and at 
the same time exalts us, circumscribes and extends us beyond 
ourselves, on the one hand releasing in us a feeling analogous 
to fear, and on the other rejoicing us. So the idea of the 
sublime is closely similar to that of the numinous, and is well 
adapted to excite it and to be excited by it, while each tends 
to pass over into the other. 

The Law of the Association of Feelings. 

As these expressions excite and pass over will later 
assume importance, and as the latter in particular is hedged 
about with misconceptions which are prominent in the modern 
doctrines of Evolution and give rise to quite erroneous con 
clusions, we will enter at once upon a closer consideration of 

It is a well-known and fundamental psychological law that 
ideas attract one another, and that one will excite another and 
call it into consciousness, if it resembles it. An entirely similar 
law holds good with regard to feelings. A feeling, no less 
than an idea, can arouse its like in the mind ; and the 
presence of the one in my consciousness may be the occasion 
for my entertaining the other at the same time. Further, 
just as in the case of ideas the law of reproduction by similarity 
leads to a mistaken substitution of ideas, so that I come to 
entertain an idea x, when y would have been the appropriate 
one, so we may be led to a corresponding substitution of 
feelings, and I may react with a feeling x to an impression 
to which the feeling y would normally correspond. Finally, 
/can pass from one feeling to another by an imperceptibly 
gradual transition, the one feeling x dying away little by 


little, while the other, y, excited together with it, increases and 
strengthens in a corresponding degree. But it is important 
here to recognize the true account of the phenomenon. What 
passes over undergoes transition is not the feeling itself. 
It is not that the actual feeling gradually changes in quality 
or evolves , i. e. transmutes itself into a quite different one, 
but rather that / pass over or make the transition from one 
feeling to another as my circumstances change, by the gradual 
decrease of the one and increase of the other. A transition of 
the actual feeling into another would be a real transmutation , 
and would be a psychological counterpart to the alchemist s 
production of gold by the transmutation of metals. 

And yet it is this transmutation that is assumed by the 
modern Evolutionism more properly to be called Transmu- 
tationism by the introduction of the equivocal phrase, 
gradually evolve (i. e. from a thing of a certain quality to 
something qualitatively different), or the no less equivocal 
words * Epigenesis , Heterogony , l and their like. In this 
way, they would have us believe, the feeling, e.g. of moral 
obligation, evolves or develops. At first, so it is said, all 
that exists is the simple constraint of uniform custom, as seen in 
the community of the clan. Then, out of that, it is said, arises 
the idea of a universally obligatory ought . How the idea can 
do so is not disclosed. Now such a theory misses the fact that 
in moral obligation we have something qualitatively quite 
different from constraint by custom. The finer and more pene 
trating psychological analysis that can apprehend differences 
in quality is rudely ignored and in consequence the whole 
problem is misconceived. Or, if something of the essential 
difference is felt, it is covered up and glozed over by the 
phrase gradually evolve , and the one thing is made to turn 
into the other par la dure e , much as milk grows sour from 
standing. But ought is a primary and unique meaning, as 
little derivable from another as blue from bitter, and there are 
not transmutations in the psychological any more than in the 

1 Neither Heterogony nor Epigenesis is genuine Evolution. They 
are rather just what the biologists call generatio equivoca , and there 
fore mere formation of an aggregate by addition and accumulation. 


physical world. The idea ought is only evolvable out of 
the spirit of man itself, and then in the sense of being arous- 
able , because it is already potentially implanted in him. Were 
it not so, no evolution could effect an introduction for it. 

The evolutionists may be quite correct in reconstructing the 
kind of historical process that took place, viz. the gradual 
and successive entry upon the scene of different moments of 
feeling-consciousness in historical sequence, and the order of 
entry itself may have been correctly discovered. But the 
explanation of this process is quite different from that which 
they intend ; it Is, namely, the law of the excitation and 
arousin"- of feelings and ideas according to the measure of 

O O " 

their resemblance. There is in point of fact a very strong 
analogy between constraint by custom and constraint by moral 
obligation, as both are constraints upon conduct. Conse 
quently the former can arouse the latter in the mind if it 
the latter was already potentially planted there ; the feeling 
of ought may start into consciousness at the presence of the 
other feeling, and the man may gradually effect a transition 
to it from that other. But what we are concerned with is the 
replacement of the one by the other, and not the transmuta 
tion of the one into the other. 

Now it is just the same with the feeling of the numinous 
as with that of moral obligation. It too is not to be derived 
from any other feeling, and is in this sense unevolvable . It is 
a content of feeling that is qualitatively svi generis, yet at the 
same time one that has numerous analogies with others, and 
therefore it and they may reciprocally excite or stimulate one 
another and cause one another to appear in the mind. Instead 
of framing epigenctic and other fabrications of the course 
the evolution of religion has taken, it is our task to inquire 
into these stimuli or excitations , these elements that cause 
the numinous feeling to appear in consciousness, to intimate 
by virtue of what analogies they came to be able to do so, and 
so to discover the series or chain of these stimuli by whose 
operation the numinous feeling was awakened in us. 

Such a power of stimulation characterizes the feeling of the 
Bublime, in accordance with the law we found, and through 


the analogies it bears to the numinous feeling. But this is 
indubitably a stimulus that only makes its appearance late in 
the excitation-series, and it is probable that the feeling of the 
sublime is itself first aroused and disengaged by the precedent 
religious feeling not from itself, but from the rational spirit 
of man and its a priori capacity. 


The Association of Ideas does not simply cause the idea y 
to reappear in consciousness with the given idea x occasionally 
only, it also sets up under certain circumstances lasting com 
binations and connexions between the two. And this is no less 
true of the association of feelings. Accordingly, we see religious 
feeling in permanent connexion with other feelings which are 
conjoined to it in accordance with this principle of Association. 
It is, indeed, more accurate to say conjoined than really con 
nected , for such mere conjunctions or chance connexions 
according to laws of purely external analogy are to be distin 
guished from necessary connexions according to principles 
of true inward affinity and cohesion. An instance of a con 
nexion of this latter kind an example, indeed, of an inner 
a priori principle is (following the theory of Kant) the con 
nexion of the Category of Causality with its temporal 
* schema , the temporal sequence of two successive events, 
which by being brought into connexion with the Category of 
Causality is known and recognized as a causal relation of the 
two. In this case analogy between the two the category 
and the schema has also a place, but it is not chance external 
resemblance but essential correspondence, and the fact that 
the two belong together is here a necessity of our reason. On 
the basis of such a necessity the temporal sequence schema 
tizes the category. 

Now the relation of the rational to the non-rational ele 
ment in the idea of the holy or sacred is just such a one of 
schematization , and the non-rational numinous fact, schema 
tized by the rational concepts we have suggested above, yields 
us the complex category of holy itself, richly charged and 
complete and in its fullest meaning. And that the schematism 


is a genuine one, and not a mere combination of analogies, may 
be distinctly seen from the fact that it does not fall to 
pieces, and cannot be cut out as the development of the 
consciousness of religious truth proceeds onwards and up 
wards, but is only recognized with greater definiteness and 
certainty. And it is for the same reason inherently probable 
that there is more, too, in the combination of the holy with 
the sublime than a mere association of feelings ; and per 
haps we may say that, while as a matter of historical genesis 
such an association was the means whereby this combination 
was awakened in the mind and the occasion for it, yet the in 
ward and lasting character of the connexion in all the higher 
religions does prove that the sublime too is an authentic 
scheme of the holy . 

The intimate interpenetration of the non-rational with the 
rational elements of the religious consciousness, like the inter 
weaving of warp and woof in a fabric, may be elucidated by 
taking another familiar case, in which a universal human 


feeling, that of personal affection, is similarly interpene 
trated by a likewise thoroughly non-rational and separate 
element, namely, the sex instinct. It goes without saying 
that this latter lies just on the opposite side of reason to the 
numinous consciousness; for, while this is above all reason , 
the sex impulse is below it, an element in our instinctive life. 
1 The numinous infuses the rational from above, the sexual 
presses up from beneath, quite wholesomely and normally 
out of the nature which the human being shares with the 
general animal world, into the higher realm of the specifically 
humane . But though the two things I am comparing are 
thus manifestly opposite extremes, they have a closely corre 
sponding relation to that which lies between them, viz. the 
reason. For the quite special domain of the erotic is only 
brought into existence as the reproductive instinct passes up 
out of the merely instinctive life, penetrates the higher humane 
life of mind and feeling, and infuses wishes, cravings, and 
longings in personal liking, friendship, and love, in song and 
poetry and imaginative creation in general. Whatever falls 
within the sphere of the erotic is therefore always a composite 


product, made up of two factors : the one something that 
occurs also in the general sphere of human behaviour as such, 
as friendship and liking, the feeling of companionship, the 
mood of poetic inspiration or joyful exaltation, and the like ; 
and the other an infusion of a quite special kind, which is not 
to be classed with these, and of which no one can have any 
inkling, let alone understand it, who has not learnt from the 
actual inward experience of eros or love. Another point 
in which the erotic is analogous to the holy is in 
having in the main no means of linguistic expression but 
terms drawn from other fields of mental life, which only cease 
to be innocuous (i. e. only become genuinely erotic terms) 
when it is realized that the lover, like the orator, bard, or singer, 
expresses himself not so much by the actual words he uses as 
by the accent, tone, and imitative gesture which reinforce 

The phrase he loves me is verbally identical, whether it is 
said by a child of its father or by a girl of her lover. But in 
the second case a c love is meant which is at the same time 
something more (viz. sexual love), and something more not 
only in quantity but in quality. So, too, the phrase We 
ought to fear, love, and trust him l is verbally identical, 
whether it refers to the relation of child to father or to that 
of man to God. But again in the second case these ideas are 
infused with a meaning of which none but the religious- 
minded man can have any comprehension or indeed any 
inkling, whose presence makes, e. g., the fear of God some 
thing more than any fear of a man, qualitatively, not merely 
quantitatively, though retaining the essence of the most 
genuine reverence felt by the child for its father. And Suso 
means in the same way to distinguish love and love of 
God , when he says : 

There was never a string so dulcet-toned but ceased to 
sound if stretched to a withered frame ; a heart poor in love 
can no more understand speech rich in love than a German 
can an Italian. 2 

1 Luther s amplification of the First Commandment. 
1 Works, ed. Denifle, p. 309. 


There is another kind of experience in which we may find 
an example of the way in which rational elements in our 
feeling-consciousness may be thus penetrated by quite non- 
rational ones, and an example even more proximate to the 
complex feeling of the holy than that just described erotic* 
experience ; in so far as the non-rational element is, like the 
numinous feeling but unlike the sexual impulse, at the same 
time tu/>ra-ration;il. I refer to the state of mind induced 
in us by a song set to music. The verbal text of the song 
expresses feelings that are natural , homesickness perhaps, 
or confidence in time of danger, hope for a future good, or joy 
in a present possession all concrete elements in our natural 
human lot, and capable of being described in conceptual terms. 
But it is otherwise with the music, purely as music. It 
releases a blissful rejoicing in us, and we are conscious of a 
glimmering, billowy agitation occupying our minds, without 
being able to express or explain in concepts what it really is 
that moves us so deeply. And to say that the music is mourn 
ful or exultant, that it incites or restrains, is merely to use 
signs by analogy, choosing them for their resemblance to the 
matter in hand out of other regions of our mental life ; and at 
any rate we cannot say what the object or ground of this 
mourning or exulting may be. Music, in short, arouses in us 
an experience and vibrations of mood that are quite specific in 
kind and must simply be called musical ; but the rise and 
fall and manifold variations of this experience exhibit 
though again only in part definite, if fugitive, analogies and 
correspondences with our ordinary non-musical emotional 
states, and so can call these into consciousness and blend with 
them. If this happens, the specific music-consciousness is 
thereby schematized and rationalized, and the resultant 
complex mood is, as it were, a fabric, in which the general 
human feelings and emotional states constitute the warp, and 
the non-rational music-feelings the woof. The song in its 
entirety is therefore music rationalized . 

Now here is illustrated the contrast between the legitimate 
and the illegitimate processes of rationalization . For, if the 
Bongmay be called music rationalized in the legitimate sense, 



in programme-music we have a musical rationalism in the 
bad sense. Programme-music, that is to say, misinterprets and 
perverts the idea of music by its implication that the inner 
content of music is not as in fact it is something unique and 
mysterious, but just the incidental experiences joy and grief, 
expansion and repression familiar to the human heart. And 
in its attempt to make of musical tones a language to recount 
the fortunes of men programme-music abolishes the autonomy 
of music, and is deceived by a mere resemblance into employ 
ing as a means what is an end and substantive content in its 
own right. It is just the same mistake as when the august 
aspect of the numinous is allowed to evaporate into the 
morally good , instead of merely being schematized by it, 
or as when we let the holy be identified with the perfectly 
good will. And not only programme-music is at fault here. 
The music-drama of Wagner, by attempting a thorough 
going unification of the musical and the dramatic, commits the 
same offence against both the non-rational spirit of the former 
and the autonomy of either. We can only succeed in very 
partial and fragmentary fashion in schematizing the non- 
rational factor in music by means of the familiar incidents of 
human experience. And the reason is just this, that the 
real content of music is not drawn from the ordinary human 
emotions at all, and that it is in no way merely a second lan 
guage, alongside the usual one, by which these emotions find 
expression. Musical feeling is rather (like numinous feeling) 
something wholly other , which, while it affords analogies and 
here and there will run parallel to the ordinary emotions of 
life, cannot be made to coincide with them by a detailed point- 
to-point correspondence. It is, of course, from those places 
where the correspondence holds that the spell of a composed 
song arises by a blending of verbal and musical expression. 
But the very fact that we attribute to it a spell, an enchant 
ment, points in itself to that woof in the fabric of music of 
which we spoke, the woof of the unconceived and non- 
rational. 1 

1 This is the point of view from which to estimate both the excellent and 
the inadequate features of E. Hanslick s book, Vom Musicalisch-Schunen. 


But we must beware of confounding in any way the non- 
rational of music and the non-rational of the numinous itself, 
as Schopenhauer, for example, does. Each is something in its 
own right, independently of the other. We shall discuss later 
whether, and how far, the former may become a means of 
expression for the latter. 

E 2 


Sin and Atonement 

WE have already met that strange and profound mental 
reaction to the numinous which we proposed to call creature- 
feeling or creature-consciousness, with its concomitant feelings 
of abasement and prostration and of the diminution of the self 
into nothingness ; bearing always in mind that these expres 
sions do not hit with precision, but merely hint at what is 
really meant, 1 inasmuch as this diminution of the self , &c., 
is something very different from the littleness, weakness, or 
dependence of which we may become aware under other 
conditions than that of numinous feeling. And we had to 
notice that this experience marks a definite depreciation or 
disvaluation of the self in respect, so to speak, of its reality 
and very existence. We have now to put alongside of this 
another sort of self-disvaluation, which has long been a 
matter of common observation, and only needs to be suggested 
in order to be recognized. I am a man of unclean lips and 
dwell among a people of unclean lips. Depart from me^ 
for I am a sinful man, O Lord. So say respectively Isaiah 
and Peter, when the numinous reality encounters them as 
a present fact of consciousness. In both cases this self- 
depreciating feeling-response is marked by an immediate, 
almost instinctive, spontaneity. It is not based on delibera 
tion, nor does it follow any rule, but breaks, as it were, 
palpitant from the soul like a direct reflex movement at 
the stimulation of the numinous. It does not spring from 

1 Cf. Hugo of St. Victor s words : Sumpta sunt vocabula, ut intellegi 
aliquatenus posset quod comprehend! non poterat . ( These words were 
chosen, that that which could not be comprehended might yet in some 
measure be understood. ) 


the consciousness of some committed transgression, but rather 
is an immediate datum given with the feeling of the nutnen : 
it proceeds to disvalue together with the self the tribe to 
which the person belongs, and indeed, together with that, 
all existence in general. Now it is to-day pretty generally 
agreed that, all this being the case, these outbursts of feeling 
are not simply, and probably at first not at all, moral deprecia 
tions, but belong to a quite special category of valuation and 
appraisement. The feeling is beyond question not that of the 
transgression of the moral law, however evident it may be that 
such a transgression, where it has occurred, will involve it as 
a consequence : it is the feeling of absolute * profaueness . 

But what is this 1 Again something which the natural 
man cannot, as such, know or even imagine. He, only, who is 
in the Spirit knows and feels what this profaneness is ; but 
to such an one it comes with piercing acuteness, and is accom 
panied by the most uncompromising judgement of self-deprecia 
tion, a judgement passed, not upon his character, because of 
individual profane actions of his, but upon his own very 
existence as creature before that which is supreme above all 
creatures. And at the same moment he passes upon the 
liumcn a judgement of appreciation of a unique kind by the 
^Cfttegorv diametrically contrary to the profane , the category 
hoTpjwinch~is proper to the numen alone, but to it in an 
aUsoIute degree ; he says : Tu solus sanctus . This sanctus 
is not merely perfect or beautiful or sublime or good , 
though, being like these concepts also a value, objective 
and ultimate, it has a definite, perceptible analogy with them. 
It is the positive numinous value or worth, and to it corre 
sponds on the side of the creature a numinous disvalue or 
1 unworth . 

In every highly-developed religion the appreciation of moral 
obligation and duty, ranking as a claim of the deity upon man, 
has been developed side by side with the religious feeling 
itself. None the less a profoundly humble and heartfelt 
recognition of the holy may occur in particular experiences 
without being always or definitely charged or infused with the 
Hense of moral demands. The holy will then be recognized as 


that which commands our respect, as that whose real value is to 
be acknowledged inwardly. It is not that the awe of holiness 
is itself simply fear in face of what is absolutely overpower 
ing, before which there is no alternative to blind, awe-struck 
obedience. Tu solus sanctus is rather a paean of praise, which, 
so far from being merely a faltering confession of the divine 
supremacy, recognizes and extols a value, precious beyond all 
conceiving. The object of such praise is not simply absolute 
Might, making its claims and compelling their fulfilment, but 
a might that has at the same time the supremest right to make 
the highest claim to service, and receives praise because it is in 
an absolute sense worthy to be praised. Thou art worthy to 
^receive praise and honour and power (Rev. iv. 11). 

When once it has been grasped that qdddsh or sanctus is not 
| originally a moral category at all, the most obvious rendering 
L of the words is transcendent ( supramundane , uberweltlich). 
The one-sided character of this rendering to which we had to 
take exception has been supplemented by the more detailed 
exposition of the numinous and its implications. But its most 
essential defect remains to be noted : transcendent is a 
purely ontological attribute and not an attribute of value ; 
it denotes a character that can, if need be, abash us, but 
cannot inspire us with respect. It might once again, therefore, 
be an advantage to introduce another term to underline this 
side of the numinous, and the words augustus and o-e/^oy 
suggest themselves for the purpose. Augustus , august , no 
less than o-e/zj/6?, is really appropriate only to numinous objects 
to rulers only as offspring or descendants of gods. Then, 
while <j/3ao-r6? indicates the being of the numen, creyui/o? or 
augustus would refer rather to its supreme worth or value, its 
illustriousness. There will, then, in fact be two values to dis 
tinguish in the numen ; its fascination (fascinans) will be that 
element in it whereby it is of subjective value ( = beatitude) to 
man; but it is august (augustum) in so far as it is recognized 
as possessing in itself objective value that claims our homage. 

Mere unlawfulness only becomes sin , impiety , sacri 
lege , when the character of numinous unworthiness or 
disvalue goes on to be transferred to and centred in moral 


delinquency. And only when the mind feels it as sin does 
the trans<a*ession of law become a matter of such dreadful 


gravity for the conscience, a catastrophe that leads it to 
despair of its own power. The meaning of * sin is not under 
stood by the natural , nor even by the merely moral, man ; 
and the theory of certain dogmatists, that the demand of 
morality as such urged man on to an inner collapse and then 
obliged him to look round for some deliverance, is palpably 
incorrect. There are serious-minded men of sincere moral 
endeavour who cannot understand what such a deliverance 
or redemption may be, and dismiss it with a shrug of the 
shoulders. They are aware that they are erring and imperfect- 
men, but they know and put into practice the methods of self- 
discipline, and so labour onward upon their way with sturdy 
resolution. The morally robust older Rationalism was lacking 
neither in a sincere and respectful recognition of the moral law 
nor in honest endeavour to conform to it. It knew well and 
sternly condemned what was wrong , and the aim of its 
exhortations and instruction was that men should realize better 
and take more in earnest the facts of moral ri<rht and wron<r. 

o o 

But no downfall or collapse and no need of redemption 
came within its scheme, because the objection brought against 
it by its opponents was in fact just ; Rationalism lacked under 
standing of what sin is. 1 Mere morality is not the soil from 
which grows either the need of redemption and deliverance 
or the need for that other unique good which is likewise 

1 Cf. the testimony of Theodore Parker certainly a man of far from 
crude mental development -as to his own experience, given by W.James, 
Varieties, p. 81 : 

They (HC. the heathen of classical antiquity) were conscious of wrath, 
of cruelty, avarice, drunkenness, lust, sloth, cowardice, and other actual 
vices, and struggled and got rid of the deformities; but they were not 
conscious of " enmity against God " and didn t sit down and whine and 
groun against non-exihtt-nt evil. I have done wrong things enough in 
my life, and do them now: I miss the mark, draw bow, and try again. 
Hut ... 1 know there IB much "health in me"; and in my body, even 
now, there dwelk-th many a good thing, spite of consumption aud 
Saint Paul. 

If there is nothing crude about such a statement, it is at any rate 
ntpttjicial. The depths of the non-rational consciousness must be stirred 
to Cud with Anselm quanti ponderiu bit peccatum . 


altogether and specifically numinous in character, covering , 
and atonement . There would perhaps be less disputing as 
to the warrant and value of these latter in Christian doctrine 
if dogmatic theology itself had not transferred them from their 
mystical sphere into that of rational ethics and attenuated them 
into moral concepts. They were thus taken from a sphere 
where they have an authentic and necessary place to one where 
their validity is most disputable. 

We meet the moment of covering in specially clear form 
in the religion of Yahweh, in its rites and the emotion they 
excite ; but it is contained also, though more obscurely, in many 
other religions. It comprises, first, a manifestation of the 
numinous awe, viz. the feeling that the profane creature can 
not forthwith approach the numen, but has need of a covering 
or shield against the opyij of the numen. Such a covering 
is then a consecration , i.e. a procedure that renders the 
approacher himself numinous , frees him from his profane 
being and fits him for intercourse with the numen. The means 
of consecration , however means of grace in the proper 
sense are derived from, or conferred and appointed by, the 
numen itself, which bestows something of its own quality to 
make man capable of communion with it. And this act is 
something very different from the annulment of mistrust , 
the phrase in which Ritschl seeks to rationalize these relations 
between God and man. 

c Atonement , following our view, is a sheltering or cover 
ing , but a profounder form of it. It springs directly from the 
idea of numinous value or worth and numinous disvalue or 
unworth as soon as these have been developed. Mere awe, mere 
need of shelter from the tremendum , has here been elevated to 
the feeling that man in his profaneness is not worthy to stand 
in the presence of the holy one, and that his own entire personal 
unworthiness might defile even holiness itself. This is obviously 
the case in the vision of the call of Isaiah ; and the same note 
recurs, less emphatically but quite unmistakably, in the story 
of the centurion of Capernaum (St. Luke vii. 1-10), and his 
words : I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my 
roof . Here we have both the light thrill of awe before the 


1 tremendum of the numen and also, and more especially, the 
feeling of this unique disvalue or unworth of the profane 
confronted by the numen, which suggests to the man that even 
holiness itself may be tainted and tarnished by his presence. 

Here, then, comes in the felt necessity and longing for 
atonement , and all the more strongly when the close presence 
of the nuinen, intercourse with it, and enduring possession of 
it, becomes an object of craving, is even desired as the sumwum 
bonum. It amounts to a longing to transcend this sundering 
un worthiness, given with the self s existence as creature and 
profane natural being. It is an element in the religious con 
sciousness, which, so far from vanishing in the measure in 
which religion is deepened and heightened, grows on the 
contrary continually stronger and more marked. Belonging, 
as it does, wholly to the non-rational side of religion, it may 
remain latent while, in the course of religious evolution, the 
rational side at first unfolds and assumes vigorous and definite 
form ; it may retire for a time behind other elements and 
apparently die away, but only to return more powerfully and 
insistently than before. And again it may grow to be the sole, 
one-sided, exclusive interest, a cry that drowns all other notes, 
so that the religious consciousness is distorted and disfigured ; 
as may readily happen where through long periods of time the 
rational aspects of religion have been fostered unduly and at 
the cost of the non-rational. 

The special character of this consciousness of need for 
atonement may perhaps be brought home more clearly by an 
analogy from our natural emotional life ; but at the same 
time it is important that the religious feeling we are con 
sidering should itself be kept distinct from its analogue, as the 
two are frequently confounded. The analogy is with the 
feeling arising from moral transgression. There, too, we 
practise a kind of self-depreciation which is clear and familiar 
and perfectly intelligible to us, when we esteem ourselves 
guilty of a bad action and the action itself as morally evil. 
The evil of the action weighs upon us and deprives us of our 
self-respect. We accuse ourselves and remome sets in. But 
alongside this self -depreciation stands a second one, which 


while it may have reference to the same action as the other 
yet avails itself of definitely different categories. The same 
perverse action that before weighed upon us now pollutes us ; 
we do not accuse ourselves, we are defiled in our own 
eyes. And the characteristic form of emotional reaction is 
no longer remorse but loathing. The man feels a need, 
to express which he has recourse to images of washing 
and cleansing. The two kinds of self-depreciation proceed 
on parallel lines and may relate to the same action ; but 
none the less it is obvious that they are, inwardly and in 
their essence, determinately different. Now the second of 
them has a plain analogy with the need for atonement , and 
so can fairly be drawn upon for its elucidation ; while at the 
same time it is yet nothing more than an analogy from another 
sphere, viz. that of morality. 

No religion has brought the mystery of the need for 
atonement or expiation to so complete, so profound, or so 
powerful expression as Christianity. And in this, too, it 
shows its superiority over others. It is a more perfect religion 
and more perfectly religion than they, in so far as what is 
potential in religion in general becomes in Christianity a pure 
actuality. And the distrust and suspicion which so widely 
obtains with regard to this mystery is only to be explained 
from the general custom for which our theoretical cult of 
homiletics, liturgy, and catechism is largely responsible of 
taking into account only the rational side of religion. Yet 
this atonement mystery is a moment which no Christian 
teaching that purports to represent the religious experience 
of the Christian and biblical tradition can afford to surrender. 
The teacher will have to make explicit, by an analysis of the 
Christian religious experience, how the very numen , by 
imparting itself to the worshipper, becomes itself the means of 
atonement . And in this regard it does not matter so 
very much what the decisions of the commentators are 
as to what, if anything, Paul or Peter wrote on the sub 
ject of expiation and atonement, or whether, indeed, there 
is any scriptural authority for the thing at all. Were 
there in scripture no word written about it, it might still 


be written to-day from our own experience. But it would 
indeed be extraordinary if it had not long ago been written 
of. For the God of the New Testament is not less holy than 
the God of the Old Testament, but more holy. The interval 
between the creature and Him is not diminished but made 
absolute ; the unworthiness of the profane in contrast to Him 
is not extenuated but enhanced. That God none the less 
admits access to Himself and intimacy with Himself is not 
a mere matter of course ; it is a grace beyond our power to 
apprehend, a prodigious paradox. To take this paradox out 
of Christianity is to make it shallow and superficial beyond 
recognition. But if this is so, the intuitions concerning, and 
the need felt for, Covering and Atonement result imme- 


diately. And the divinely appointed means of God s self- 
revelation, where experienced and appraised as such the 
Word , the Spirit , the Person of Christ , become that to 
which the man flees , in which he finds refuge, and in which 
he locks himself, in order that, consecrated and cleansed of 
his profaneness thereby, he may come into the presence of 
Holiness itself. 

That these ideas are viewed with a certain distrust may be 
traced to two causes. One is, that what is a specifically 
religious element is distortingly moralized. If we start from 
mere morality and in relation to a God understood as being 
the personification of the moral order endowed with love, 
then all these things are wholly inapplicable and a source of 
genuine difficulty. But we are concerned with religious (not 
merely moral) intuitions, and it is impossible to dispute how 
right or wrong they are with a man whose interest is wholly 
in morality and not in religion, and who is therefore quite 
incapable of appreciating them. Whoever, on the other hand, 
penetrates to the unique centre of the religious experience, so 
that it starts awake in his own consciousness, finds that the 
truth of these intuitions is experienced directly, as soon as he 
penetrates into their depths. 

The other ground of distrust is that usually in our theo 
logical systems an attempt is made to develop conceptual 
theories of these ideas, which are all pure intuitions, emotional 


rather than conceptual in character. They are thus made 
objects of speculation, and the final outcome is the quasi- 
mathematical Doctrine of Imputation and its drastic ascrip 
tion to the credit of the sinner of the merit of Christ, not 
to mention the learned inquiry whether this transaction 
involves an analytic or a { synthetic judgement of God. 

# * * * 

Let us look back once more from the point we have reached 
over the course our inquiry has so far taken. As the sub 
title of this book suggests, we were to investigate the non- 
rational element in the idea of the divine. The words non- 
rational and irrational are to-day used almost at random. 
The non-rational is sought over the most widely different 
regions, and writers generally shirk the trouble of putting 
down precisely what they intend by the term, giving it often 
the most multifarious meanings or applying it with such vague 
generality that it admits of the most diverse interpretations. 
Pure fact in contrast to law, the empirical in contrast to 
reason, the contingent in contrast to the necessary, the psycho 
logical in contrast to transcendental fact, that which is known 
a posteriori in contrast to that which is determinable a priori ; 
power, will, and arbitrary choice in contrast to reason, know 
ledge, and determination by value ; impulse, instinct, and the 
obscure forces of the subconscious in contrast to insight, 
reflection, and intelligible plan ; mystical depths and stirrings 
in the soul, surmise, presentiment, intuition, prophecy, and 
finally the f occult powders also ; or, in general, the uneasy 
stress and universal fermentation of the time, with its groping 
after the thing never yet heard or seen in poetry or the 
plastic arts all these and more may claim the names non- 
rational , irrational , and according to circumstances are 
extolled or condemned as modern irrationalism . Whoever 
makes use of the word non-rational to-day ought to say 
what he actually means by it. This we did in our intro 
ductory chapter. We began with the rational in the idea of 
God and the divine, meaning by the term that in it which is 
clearly to be grasped by our power of conceiving, and enters the 
domain of familiar and definable conceptions. We went on to 


maintain that beneath this sphere of clarity and lucidity lies 
a hidden depth, inaccessible to our conceptual thought, which 
we in so far call the non-rational*. 

The meaning of the two contrasted terms may be made 
plainer by an illustration. A deep joy may fill our minds 
without any clear realization upon our part of its source and 
the object to which it refers, though some such objective 
reference there must always be. But as attention is directed 
to it the obscure object becomes clearly identified in precise 
conceptual terms. Such an object cannot, then, be called, 
in our sense of the word, non-rational . But it is quite 
otherwise with religious bliss and its essentially numinous 
aspect, the fascinans . Not the most concentrated attention 
can elucidate the object to which this state of mind refers, 
bringing it out of the impenetrable obscurity of feeling into the 
domain of the conceptual understanding. It remains purely 
a felt experience, only to be indicated symbolically by ideo 
grams . That is what we mean by saying, it is non-rational. 

And the same is true of all the moments of the numinous 
experience. The consciousness of a wholly other evades 
precise formulation in words, and we have to employ symbolic 
phrases which seem sometimes sheer paradox, that is, irrational 
not merely non-rational in import. So with religious awe 
and reverence. In ordinary fear and in moral reverence I can 
indicate in conceptual terms what it is that I fear or revere ; in 
jury, e. g. or ruin in the one case, heroism or strength of character 
in the other. But the object of religious awe or reverence 
the tremendum and augustum, cannot be fully determined 
conceptually : it is non-rational, as is the beauty of a musical 
composition, which no less eludes complete conceptual analysis. 

Confronted by the fact of the non-rational thus interpreted 
we cannot be satisfied with a mere bare statement, which 
would open the door to all the vague and arbitrary phraseology 
of an emotionalist irrationalism. We are bound to try, by 
means of the most precise and unambiguous symbolic and 
figurative terms that we can find, to discriminate the different 
elements of the experience so far as we can in a way that can 
claim general validity. 


1. Direct Means 

IT may serve to make the essential nature of the numinous 
consciousness clearer if we call to mind the manner in which 
it expresses itself outwardly, and how it spreads and is trans 
mitted from mind to mind. There is, of course, no trans 
mission of it in the proper sense of the word ; it cannot be 
taught , it must be awakened from the spirit. And this 
could not justly be asserted, as it often is, of religion as 
a whole and in general, for in religion there is very much that 
can be taught that is, handed down in concepts and passed 
on in school instruction. What is incapable of being sc 
handed down is this numinous basis and background to 
religion, which can only be induced, incited, and aroused. 
This is least of all possible by mere verbal phrase or external 
symbol ; rather we must have recourse to the way all other 
moods and feelings are transmitted, to a penetrative imagina 
tive sympathy with what passes in the other person s 
mind. More of the experience lives in reverent attitude and 
gesture, in tone and voice and demeanour, expressing its 
momentousness, and in the solemn devotional assembly of 
a congregation at prayer, than in all the phrases and negative 
nomenclature which we have found to designate it. Indeed, 
these never give a positive suggestion of the object to which 
the religious consciousness refers ; they are only of assistance 
in so far as they profess to indicate an object, which they at 
the same time contrast with another, at once distinct from 
and inferior to it, e. g. the invisible , the eternal (non- 
temporal), the supernatural , the transcendent . Or they 


are simply ideograms for the unique content of feeling, 
ideograms to understand which a man must already have had 
the experience himself. Far the best means are actual holy 
situations or their representation in description. If a man 
does not ft el what the numinous is, when he reads the sixth 
chapter of Isaiah, then no preaching, singing, telling , in 
Luther s phrase, can avail him. Little of it can usually be 
noticed in theory and dogma, or even in exhortation, unless it 
is actually heard. Indeed no element in religion needs so 
much as this the * viva vox .transmission by living fellowship 
and the inspiration of personal contact. 1 

But the mere word, even when it comes as a living voice 
is powerless without the Spirit in the heart of the hearer 
to move him to apprehension. And this Spirit, this inborn 
capacity to receive and understand, is the essential thing. If 
that is there, very often only a very small incitement, a very 
remote stimulus, is needed to arouse the numinous conscious 
ness. It is indeed astonishing to see how small a stimulus 
Kiifliccs and that too coming sometimes only in clumsy and 
bewildered guise to raise the Spirit of itself to the strongest 
pitch of the most definitely religious excitement. But where 
the wind of the Spirit blows, there the mere rational terms 
themselves are indued with power to arouse the feeling of the 
non-rational , and become adequate to tune the mood at 
once to the right tone. Here schematization starts at once 
and needs no prompting. He who in the Spirit reads the 
written word lives in the numinous, though he may have 
neither notion of it nor name for it, nay, though he may be 
unable to analyse any feeling of his own and so make explicit 

1 SUBO says of the transmission of the mystical experience : One thing 
there may be known ; unlike as it is, when a man heareth himself a dulcet 
instrument of strings sweetly sounding, compared to whoso but heareth 
tell thereof, even BO are the words which are received in the purity of 
grace and flow forth out of a living heart by a living mouth unlike to 
those name words if they are beheld upon the dead parchment. . . . For 
there they grow cold, I know not how, and wither away like roses that 
have been plucked. For the lovely melody that above all toucheth the 
heart is then quenched to silence ; and in the waste places of the withered 
heart are they then received. 


to himself the nature of that numinous strand running through 
the religious experience. 

2. Indirect Means 

For the rest, the methods by which the numinous 
feeling is presented and evoked are indirect ; i. e. they 
consist in those means by which we express kindred and 
similar feelings belonging to the natural sphere. We have 
already become acquainted with these feelings, and we shall 
recognize them at once if we consider what are the means of 
expression which religion has employed in all ages and in 
every land. 

One of the most primitive of these which is later 
more and more felt to be inadequate, until it is finally 
altogether discarded as unworthy is quite naturally the 
fearful and horrible, and even at times the revolting and 
the loathsome. Inasmuch as the corresponding feelings are 
closely analogous to that of the tremendum , their outlets 
and means of expression may become indirect modes of 
expressing the specific numinous awe that cannot be 
expressed directly. And so it comes about that the horrible 
and dreadful character of primitive images and pictures of 
gods, which seems to us to-day frequently so repellent, has 
even yet among naive and primitive natures nay, occasionally 
even among ourselves the effect of arousing genuine feelings 
of authentic religious awe. And, vice versa, this awe operates 
as a supremely potent stimulus to express the element of 
terror in different forms of imaginative representation. The 
hard, stern, and somewhat grim pictures of the Madonna in 
ancient Byzantine art attract the worship of many Catholics 
more than the tender charm of the Madonnas of Raphael. 
This trait is most signally evident in the case of certain figures 
of gods in the Indian pantheon. Durga, the great Mother of 
Bengal, whose worship can appear steeped in an atmosphere 
of profoundest devotional awe, is represented in the orthodox 
tradition with the visage of a fiend. And this same blend 
ing of appalling frightfulness and most exalted holiness can 
perhaps be even more clearly studied in the eleventh book 


of the Bhagavad-Gita, 1 in which Vishnu who is yet to his 
votaries the very principle of goodness displays himself to 
Aryuna in the true height of his divinity. Here, too, the 
mind has recourse for mode of expression first to the fearful 
and dreadful, though this is at the same time permeated with 
that element of the grand to which we next turn. 

This mode of expression, by way of grandeur or sub 
limity , is found on higher levels, where it replaces mere 
terror and dread . We meet it in an unsurpassable form 
in the sixth chapter of Isaiah, where there is sublimity alike 
in the lofty throne and the sovereign figure of God, the skirts 
of His raiment * filling the temple and the solemn majesty of 
the attendant angels about Him. While the element of 
dread is gradually overborne, the connexion of the sub 
lime and the holy becomes firmly established as a legi 
timate fichematization and is carried on into the highest 
forms of religious consciousness a proof that there exists a 
hidden kinship between the numinous and the sublime which 
is something more than a merely accidental analogy, and to 
which Kant s Critique of Judgement bears distant witness. 

So far we have been concerned with that element or factor of 
the numinous which was the first our analysis noted and which 
we proposed to name symbolically * the aweful (tremeiidum). 
We pass now to consider the means by which the second the 
element of the mysterious (mysterium) is expressed. Here 
we light upon the analogical mode of manifestation that in every 
religion occupies a foremost and extraordinary place, and the 
theory of which we are now in a position to give. I refer to 
miracle. Miracle is the dearest child of Faith ; if the 
history of religions had not already taught us the truth of 
Schiller s saying, we might have reached it by anticipation 
a priori from the element of the mysterious , as already 
shown. Nothing can be found in all the world of natural 
feelings bearing so immediate an analogy mutatis mutandis 
to the religious consciousness of ineffable, unutterable mystery, 

1 See Appendix II. Nowhere can the non-mtional element of opy, , be 
better studied than in this chapter, one of the perfectly classical passages 
for the theory of Religion. 


the absolute other , as the incomprehensible, unwonted, 
enigmatic thing, in whatever place or guise it may confront 
us. This will be all the more true if the uncomprehended 
thing is something at once mighty and fearful, for then there 
is a twofold analogy with the numinous that is to say, an 
analogy not only with the mysterium aspect of it, but with 
the tremendum aspect, and the latter again in the two 
directions already suggested of fearfulness proper and sub 
limity. This exemplifies the general truth already considered 
that any form of the numinous consciousness may be stirred 
by means of feelings analogous to it of a natural kind, and 
then itself pass over into these, or, more properly, be replaced 
by them. And in fact this is everywhere manifest in the 
experience of man. Whatever has loomed upon the world of 
his ordinary concerns as something terrifying and baffling to the 
intellect ; whatever among natural occurrences or events in 
the human, animal, or vegetable kingdoms has set him astare 
in wonder and astonishment such things have ever aroused 
in man, and become endued with, the daemonic dread and 
numinous feeling, so as to become portents , prodigies , 
and marvels . Thus and only thus is it that the miraculous 
rose. And, in the reverse direction, the feeling of the numen 
as the mysterious worked as a potent stimulus on the 
naive imagination, inciting it to expect miracles, to invent 
them, to experience them, to recount them, just as before 
the felt awefulness of the numen became a stimulus to 
select or fashion inventively, as a means of religious expres 
sion, images of fear and dread. The mysterious became 
an untiring impulse, prompting to inexhaustible invention 
in folk-tale and myth, saga and legend, permeating ritual 
and the forms of worship, and remaining till to-day to naive 
minds, whether in the form of narrative or sacrament, the 
most powerful factor that keeps the religious consciousness 
alive. But here too, as in the case of the fearful and terrible, 
progress to a higher stage of development shows the gradual 
elimination of this merely external analogue to the numinous, 
viz. the miraculous; and so we see how, on the more 
enlightened levels, miracle begins to fade away ; how Christ 


is at one with Mohammed and Buddha in declining the r61e 
of mere wonder-worker ; how Luther dismisses the out 
ward miracles disparagingly as jugglery or apples and nuts 
for children ; and finally how the supernaturalism of miracle 
is purged from religion as something that is only an imperfect 
analogue and no genuine schema of the numinous. 

There are other manifestations of this tendency of the 
feeling of the mysterious to be attracted to objects and 
aspects of experience analogous to it in being uncompre- 
hended . It finds its most unqualified expression in the spell 
exercised by the only half intelligible or wholly unintelligible 
language of devotion, and in the unquestionably real enhance 
ment of the awe of the worshipper which this produces. 
Instances of this are the ancient traditional expressions, 
still retained despite their obscurity, in our Bible and hym 
nals ; the special emotional virtue attaching to words like 
Hallelujah, Kyrie eleison, Selah, just because they are wholly 
other and convey no clear meaning ; the Latin in the service 
of the Mass, felt by the Catholic to be, not a necessary evil, 
but something especially holy; the Sanskrit in the Buddhist 
Mass of China and Japan ; the language of the gods in the 
ritual of sacrifice in Homer ; and many similar cases. 
Especially noticeable in this connexion are the half-revealed, 
half-concealed elements in the Service of the Mass, in the 
Greek Church liturgy, and so many others ; wo can see 
here one factor that justifies and warrants them. And the 
same is true of the remaining portions of the old Mass which 
recur in the Lutheran ritual. Just because their design 
shows but little of regularity or conceptual arrangement, they 
preserve in themselves far more of the spirit of worship than 
the proposed recastings of the service put forward by the 
most recent practical reformers. In these we find carefully 
arranged schemes worked out with the balance and coherence 
of an essay, but nothing unaccountable, and for that very 
reason suggestive ; nothing accidental, and for that very 
reason pregnant in meaning ; nothing that rises from the deeps 
below consciousness to break the rounded unity of the wonted 
disposition, and thereby point to a unity of a higher order 

r 2 


in a word, little that is really spiritual. All the cases cited, 
then, derive their power of suggestion from the same source ; 
they are all instances of the analogy to the mysterious 
afforded by that which is not wholly understood, unwonted 
and at the same time venerable through age ; and in the 
resemblance they present to the mysterious they arouse it 
in the mind by a sort of anamnesis or reminder, and at the 
same time constitute its outward analogical representation. 

3. Means by which the Numinous is expressed in Art 

In the arts nearly everywhere the most effective means of 
representing the numinous is * the sublime . This is especially 
true of architecture, in which it would appear to have first been 
realized. One can hardly escape the idea that this feeling for 
expression must have begun to awaken far back in the remote 
Megalithic Age. The motive underlying the erection of those 
gigantic blocks of rock, hewn or unworked, single monoliths 
or titanic rings of stone, as at Stonehenge, may have well been 
originally to localize and preserve and, as it were, to store up 
the numen in solid presence by magic ; but the change to the 
motive of expression must have been from the outset far too 
vividly stimulated not to occur at a very early date. In fact 
the bare feeling for solemn and imposing magnitude and for the 
pomp of sublime pose and gesture is a fairly elementary one, 
and we cannot doubt that this stage had been reached when 
the mastabas, obelisks and pyramids were built in Egypt. It 
is indeed beyond question that the builders of these Temples, 
and of the Sphinx of Gizeh, which set the feeling of the 
sublime, and together with and through it that of the numinous, 
throbbing in the soul almost like a mechanical reflex, must 
themselves have been conscious of this effect and have in 
tended it. 

Further, we often say of a building, or indeed of a song, 
a formula, a succession of gestures or musical notes, and in 
particular of certain manifestations of ornamental and decora 
tive art, symbols, and emblems, that they make a downright 
magical impression, and we feel we can detect the special 
characteristic of this magical note in ,rt with fair assurance 


even under the most varying conditions and in the most 
diverse relationships. The art of China, Japan, and Tibet, 
whose specific character has been determined by Taoism and 
Buddhism, surpasses all others in the unusual richness and 
depth of such impressions of the magical , and even an in 
expert observer responds to them readily. The designation 
4 magical is here correct even from the historical point 
of view, since the origin of this language of form was 
properly magical representations, emblems, formularies, and 
contrivances. But the actual impression of magic is quite 
independent of this historical bond of connexion with magical 
practices. It occurs even when nothing is known of the 
latter; nay, in that case it comes out most strongly and 
uribrokenly. Beyond dispute art has here a means of creating 
a unique impression that of the magical apart from and 
independent of reflection. Now the magical is nothing but 
a suppressed and dimmed form of the numinous, a crude form 
of it which great art purifies and ennobles. In great art the 
point is reached at which we may no longer speak of the 
magical , but rather are confronted with the numinous itself, 
with all its impelling motive power, transcending reason, 
expressed in sweeping lines and rhythm. 1 In no art, perhaps, 
is this more fully realized than in the great landscape painting 
and religious painting of China in the classical period of the 
T ang and Sung dynasties. It has been said of this great art : 

These works are to be classed with the profoundest and 
Bublirnest of the creations of human art. The spectator who, 

1 This numinous magical character in specially noticeable in the- 
atrangely impressive figures of the Buddha in early Chinese art ; and 
here too it atlects the observer independently of ideas , i.e. without 
his knowing anything about the speculative doctrines of Buddhism. 
ThuH Siien justly says of the great Buddha from the Lung-Men Caves 
(T ang Dynawty): 

Anyone who approaches this figure will realize that it has ft religious 
Hignificance without knowing anything about its motif. ... It matters 
little whether we call it a prophet or a god, because it is a complete 
work of ait permeated by a spiritual will, which communicates itself to 
the beholder . . . The religious element of such a figure is immanent; it 
is "a presence" or an atmosphere rather than a formulated idea. ... It 
cannot be dencnbed in wordH, because it lies beyond intellectual definition. 
(Oswald Siren, Chinese Sculpture, London, 1925, vol, i, p. 20.) 


as it were, immerses himself in them feels behind these waters 
and clouds and mountains the mysterious breath of the primeval 
Tao, the pulse of innermost being. Many a mystery lies half- 
concealed and half-revealed in these pictures. They contain 
the knowledge of the " nothingness " and the " void ", of the 
" Tao " of heaven and earth, which is also the Tao of the human 
heart. And so, despite their perpetual agitation, they seem 
as remotely distant and as profoundly calm as though they 
drew secret breath at the bottom of a sea. l 

To us of the West the Gothic appears as the most numinous 
of all types of art. This is due in the first place to its 
sublimity ; but Worringer in his work Probleme der Gothik 
has done a real service in showing that the peculiar impressive- 
ness of Gothic does not consist in its sublimity alone, but 
draws upon a strain inherited from primitive magic, of which 
he tries to show the historical derivation. To Worringer, 
then, the impression Gothic makes is one of magic ; and, what 
ever may be said of his historical account of the matter, it is 
certain that in this at least he is on the right track. Gothic 
does instil a spell that is more than the effect of sublimity. 
But magic is too low a word : the tower of the Cathedral of 
Ulm is emphatically not magical , it is numinous. And the 
difference between the numinous and the merely magical can 
nowhere be felt more clearly than in the splendid plate 
Worringer gives in his book of this marvellous work of archi 
tecture. But when this is said, we may still keep the word 
magic in use to denote the style and means of artistic 
expression by which the impression of the numinous comes 
into being. 

But in neither the sublime nor the magical, effective as 
they are, has art more than an indirect means of representing 
the numinous. Of directer methods our Western art has only 
two, and they are in a noteworthy way negative, viz. darkness 
and silence. The darkness must be such as is enhanced and 
made all the more perceptible by contrast with some last 

1 From an article by Otto Fischer on Chinese landscape painting in 
Das KunstMatt, Jan. 1920. 


vestige of brightness, which it is, as it were, on the point of 
extinguishing ; hence the mystical effect begins with semi- 
darkness. Its impression is rendered complete if the factor of 
the sublime comes to unite with and supplement it. The 
semi-darkness that glimmers in vaulted halls, or beneath the 
branches of a lofty forest glade, strangely quickened and 
stirred by the mysterious play of half-lights, has always 
spoken eloquently to the soul, and the builders of temples, 
mosques, and churches have made full use of it. 

SUeiice is what corresponds to this in the language of musical 
sounds. Yahweh is in His holy Temple, let all the earth keep 
silence before Him. (Habakkuk, ii. 20.) Neither we nor 
(probably) the prophet any longer bear in mind that this 
keeping silence (as ^v^rj^lv in Greek), if regarded from 
the historical, genetic standpoint, springs from the fear of 
using words of evil omen, which therefore prefers to be 
altogether speechless. It is the same with Tersteegen in his 
God is present, let all in us be silent . With prophet and 
psalmist and poet we feel the necessity of silence from another 
and quite independent motive. It is a spontaneous reaction 
to the feeling of the actual numen praesens . Once again, 
what is found coming upon the scene at a higher level of 
evolution cannot be explained by merely interpolating links 
in a historico-genetic chain of development ; and the Psalmist 
and Terbteegen and even we ourselves are at least as interesting 
subjects for the analysis of the psychologist of religion as are 
the Primitives , with their habitual practice of (ixprjfjLia, the 
silence that merely avoids words of ill augury. 

Besides Silence and Darkness oriental art knows a third 
direct means for producing a strongly numinous impression, to 
wit, emptiness and empty distances. Empty distance, remote 
vacancy, is, as it were, the sublime in the horizontal. The 
wide-stretching desert, the boundless uniformity of the steppe, 
have real sublimity, and even in us Westerners they set 
vibrating chords of the numinous along with the note of the 
sublime, according to the principle of the association of 
feelings. Chinese architecture, which is essentially an art in 
the laying out and grouping of buildings, makes a wise and 


very striking use of this fact. It does not achieve the 
impression of solemnity by lofty vaulted halls or imposing 
altitudes, but nothing could well be more solemn than the 
silent amplitude of the enclosed spaces, courtyards, and vesti 
bules which it employs. The imperial tombs of the Ming 
emperors at Nanking and Peking are, perhaps, the strongest 
example of this, including, as they do, in their plan the empty 
distances of an entire landscape. Still more interesting is the 
part played by the factor of void or emptiness in Chinese 
painting. There it has almost become a special art to paint 
empty space, to make it palpable, and to develop variations 
upon this singular theme. Not only are there pictures upon 
which almost nothing is painted, not only is it an essential 
feature of their style to make the strongest impression with 
the fewest strokes and the scantiest means, but there are very 
many pictures especially such as are connected with con 
templation which impress the observer with the feeling that 
the void itself is depicted as a subject, is indeed the main 
subject of the picture. We can only understand this by 
recalling what was said above on the nothingness and the 
void of the mystics and on the enchantment and spell 
exercised by the negative hymns . For Void is, like Dark 
ness and Silence, a negation, but a negation that does away 
with every this and here , in order that the wholly other 
may become actual. 

Not even music, which else can give such manifold expression 
to all the feelings of the mind, has any positive way to express 
the holy . Even the most consummate Mass-music can only 
give utterance to the holiest, most numinous moment in 
the Mass the moment of transubstantiation by sinking into 
stillness : no mere momentary pause, but an absolute cessation 
of sound long enough for us to hear the Silence itself ; and 
no devotional moment in the whole Mass approximates in 
impressiveness to this keeping silence before the Lord . It is 
instructive to submit Bach s Mass in B minor to the test in this 
matter. Its most mystical portion is the Incarnatus in the 
Credo, and there the effect is due to the faint, whispering, 
lingering sequence in the fugue structure, dying away 


pianissimo. The held breath and hushed sound of the passage, 
its weird cadences, sinking away in lessened thirds, its pauses 
and syncopations, and its rise and fall in astonishing semi 
tones, which render so well the sense of awe-struck wonder 
all this serves to express the mysterium by way of intimation, 
rather than in forthright utterance. And by this means Ba<jh 
attains his aim here far better than in the Sanctus . This 
latter is indeed an incomparably successful expression of Him, 
whose is the power and the glory , an enraptured and 
triumphant choric hymn to perfect and absolute sovereignty. 
But it is very far distant from the mood of the text that 
accompanies the music, which is taken from Isaiah vi, and which 
the composer should have interpreted in accordance with that 
passage as a whole. No one would gather from this magnifi 
cent chorus that the Seraphim covered their faces with two 
of their wings. 1 In this point Mendelssohn shows very fine 
sensibility in his musical setting of Psalm ii at the words 
(v. 11) : Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 
And here too the matter is expressed less in the music itself 
than in the way the music is restrained and repressed one 
might almost say, abashed as the Cathedral choir at Berlin so 
well knows how to render it. And, if a final example may be 
cited, the Popule meus of Thomas Luiz gets as near to the heart 
of the matter as any music can. In this the first chorus sings the 
first words of the Trisagion : Hagios, ho theos, hagios ischyros, 
hagios athanatos , and the second chorus sings in response the 
Latin rendering of the words : Sanctus deus, sanctus fortis, 
sanctus immortalis , each chorus thrillino- with a sort of muffled 


tremor. But the Trisagion itself, sung pianissimo by singers 
kept out of sight far at the back, is like a whisper floating 
down through space, and is assuredly a consummate reproduc 
tion of the scene in the vision of Isaiah. 

1 Tlie Jewish tradition has been, however, very well aware of the import 
of the matter. In the splendid New Year s day Hymn of Melek Elyon 
the words run: All the mighty ones on high whisper low : Yahwth is 


WHILE the feelings of the non-rational and numinous 
constitute a vital factor in every form religion may take, 
they are pre-eminently in evidence in Semitic religion and 
most of all in the religion of the Bible. Here Mystery lives 
and moves in all its potency. It is present in the ideas of 
the daemonic and angelic world, which, as a wholly other , 
surrounds, transcends, and permeates this world of ours ; it 
is potent in the Biblical eschatology and the ideal of a king 
dom of God contrasted with the natural order, now as being 
future in time, now as being eternal, but always as the down 
right marvellous and other ; and finally it impresses itself 
on the character of Yahweh and Elohim that God who is 
nevertheless the Heavenly Father of Jesus and as such 
fulfils , not loses, his character as Yahweh. 

The lower stage of numinous consciousness, viz. daemonic 
dread, has already been long superseded by the time we reach 
the Prophets and Psalmists. But there are not wanting 
occasional echoes of it, found especially in the earlier narra 
tive literature. The story in Exodus iv. 24, of how Yahweh 
in his 0/3777 met Moses by the way and sought to kill him , 
still bears this daemonic character strongly, and the tale 
leaves us almost with the suggestion of a ghostly apparition. 
And from the standpoint of the more highly developed fear 
of God one might easily get from this and similar stories 
the impression that this is not yet religion at all, but a sort 
of pre-religious, vulgar fear of demons or the like. That 
would, however, be a misconception ; a c vulgar fear of demons 
would refer to a demon in the narrower sense of the word, 
in which it is a synonym for devil, fiend, or goblin, and is 
contrasted with the divine. But demon in this sense has 


not been, any more than ghost or spectre , a point in the 
transition, or, if it be preferred, a link in the chain of develop 
ment which religious consciousness has undergone. Both 
demon (= fiend) and spectre are, so to speak, offshoots 
from the true line of progress, spurious fabrications of the 
fancy accompanying the numinous feeling. We must carefully 
distinguish from such a demon the Saifiow or daemon in 
the more general sense of the word, which, if it is not yet 
itself a god , is still less an anti-god, but must be termed 
a l pre-god , the numen at a lower stage, in which it is still 
trammelled and suppressed, but out of which the god 
gradually grows to more and more lofty manifestations. This 
is the phase whose after-effects can be detected in these 
ancient stories. 

It will be worth while to consider this matter further. 
Two things may help to an understanding of the real relation 
with which we are here concerned. First, we may refer back 
to what was said on an earlier page upon the capacity of the 
dreadful and terrible in general to attract and arouse, and 
also to express, the true numinous consciousness or emotion. 
In the second place, we may refer to the parallel case of 
music. A man with a pronounced musical faculty, so long as 
he is a mere raw tyro, may be enraptured by the sound of the 
bagpipes or the hurdy-gurdy, though perhaps both become 
intolerable to him when his musical education has been com 
pleted. But, if he then recalls the qualitative character of his 
earlier musical experience and compares it with his present 
one, he will have to admit that, in both, one and the same side 
of his mind is functioning, and that what has taken place in 
the rise of his feeling for music to a more elevated form 
is no transition to something different in kind, but a process 
which we may call development or growth to maturity , 
but can hardly further specify. Were we to hear to-day 
the music of Confucius, it would probably be to us merely 
a succession of queer noises. Yet already Confucius speaks 
of the power of music on the mind in a way we moderns 
cannot better, and touches upon just those elements which we 
also must recognize in the experience of music. But the most 


striking consideration in this regard is the way in which 
some savage tribes are endowed with a capacity for a ready 
appreciation of our music, which they grasp quickly, practise 
assiduously, and enjoy intensely, when it is brought before 
them. This endowment did not first enter their minds 
at the moment they heard the music by a heterogony , 
epigenesis , or other miracle ; it simply existed all the time 
as a natural predisposition or latent capacity. It was aroused 
and began to develop as soon as the proper incitement came 
to stimulate it, but to the end it was yet the selfsame disposi 
tion that had been formerly excited to such primitive and 
crude manifestations. This crude , primitive form of music 
is often almost or wholly unrecognizable as real music by our 
developed musical taste, although it was the manifestation of 
the same impulse and the same element of our psychical 
nature. Now it is exactly a parallel case when the God 
fearing man of to-day finds it hard to detect in the narrative 
of Exodus iv that which is akin to his own religious experience, 
or misjudges it altogether. All this involves a point of view 
which should be taken into consideration more generally with 
respect to the religion of primitive man , though naturally 
great caution should be used in applying it, seeing that very 
mistaken conclusions can be drawn from it and there is a 
real danger of confounding the lower with the higher levels 
of development and of making too little of the interval 
between them. However, it is still more dangerous to exclude 
this point of view altogether, as is unfortunately very com 
monly done. 1 

Recent research has sought to discover a difference in char 
acter between Yahweh, the austere and stern, and Elohim, the 
familiar, patriarchal God, and there is something very illumi 
nating in the suggestion. Soderblom s supposition 2 is that 
the notion of Yahweh had its point of origin in earlier ani 
mistic ideas. I do not dispute the importance of such 
animistic ideas in the religious evolutionary process; in 

1 In this regard Mr. Marett in particular has important and novel 
considerations to offer. 
3 So derblom, Das Werden des Gottesglaubens, 1916, pp. 297 ff. 


fact, I should go even farther than Soderblom in that respect, 
for he would explain them as a sort of primitive philosophy , 
and therefore has to exclude them altogether from the domain 
of genuinely religious imagination. It would be perfectly 
compatible with my own view to hold that where ideas of 
an animistic character had been framed they could serve as 
an important link in the chain of stimulation by which true 
numinous consciousness is aroused (namely, in so far as they 
served to disengage and free the obscure feeling-element of 
existent being , latent in it). But what distinguishes Yahwehi 
from El-Shaddai-Elohim is not that the former is an anima ,! 
but (and the distinction may be applied to differentiate all 
god-types) that, whereas in Yahweh the numinous preponder 
ates over the familiar rational character, in Elohim the 
rational aspect outweighs the numinous. Outweighs is as 
much as we can say, for in Elohim too the numinous element 
is certainly present ; Elohim is, for instance, the subject of the 
genuinely numinous narrative of the theophany in the burning 
bush, with the characteristic verse (Exodus iii. 6) : And Moses 
hid his face ; for he was afraid to look upon God. 

For the copious and diverse characteristics of the idea of 
God of the ancient Israelites which might be instanced here the 
reader is referred to works upon the history of religion. 1 The 
venerable religion of Moses marks the beginning of a process 
which from that point onward proceeds with ever increasing 
momentum, by which the numinous is throughout rational 
ized and moralized, i.e. charged with ethical import, until it 
becomes the holy in the fullest sense of the word. The 
culmination of the process is found in the Prophets and in 
the Gospels. And it is in this that the special nobility of 
the religion revealed to us by the Bible is to be found, which, 
when the stage represented by the deutero-Lsaiah is reached, 
justifies its claim to be a universal world-religion. Here is 
to be found its manifest superiority over, e. g., Islam, in which 
Allah is mere numen , and is in fact precisely Yahweh in his 
pre-Mosaic form and upon a larger scale. But this moralizing 

1 They are given exhauntively in the Encyclopaedia Die Reliyion in 
Geschichte und Gegentcart, vol. ii, pp. 1530, 2036. 


and rationalizing process does not mean that the numinous 
itself has been overcome, but merely that its preponderance has 
been overcome. The numinous is at once the basis upon which 
and the setting within which the ethical and rational meaning 
is consummated. 

The capital instance of the intimate mutual interpenetration 
of the numinous with the rational and moral is Isaiah. The 
note struck in the vision of his call is the keynote of his 
entire prophecy. And nothing is in this regard more signifi 
cant than the fact that it is in Isaiah that the expression 
the Holy One of Israel first becomes established as the 
expression, par excellence, for the deity, prevailing over all 
others by its mysterious potency. This remains so in the 
writings of the deutero-Isaiah , who follows the tradition of 
the earlier Isaiah. Assuredly in deutero-Isaiah, if in any 
writer, we have to do with a God whose attributes are clear 
to conceptual thought : omnipotence, goodness, wisdom, truth ; 
and yet all the time these are attributes of the Holy One , 
whose strange name deutero-Isaiah too repeats no less than 
fifteen times and always in passages where it has a special 

Related expressions akin to the holiness of Yahweh are His 
fury , His jealousy , His wrath , the consuming fire , and 
the like. The import of them all is not only the all-requiting 
righteousness of God, not even merely His susceptibility to 
strong and living emotions, but all this ever enclosed in and 
permeated with the awefulness and the majesty , the 
mystery and the augustness , of His non-rational divine 

And this holds good, also, of the expression the living God . 
God s livingness is perceptibly akin to His jealousy and is 
manifested in and through this, as in His other passions 
generally. 1 It is by His life that this God is differ- 

1 Cf. Deut. v. 26 : For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the 
voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, 
and lived? Cf. also Josh. iii. 10 ; 1 Sam. xvii. 26, 36 ; 2 Kings xix. 4; 
Isa. xxxvii. 4, 17 ; Jer. x. 10 : He is the living God : ... at His wrath the 
earth shall tremble and the nations shall not be able to abide His indigna- 


entiated from all mere World Reason , and becomes this 
ultimately non-rational essence, that eludes all philosophic 
treatment. This is the God that lives in the consciousness of 
all prophets and apostles of the Old and the New Dispensa 
tion alike. And all those who later championed against the 
God of philosophy the living God and the God of anger 
and love and the emotions have unwittingly been defending 
the non-rational core of the Biblical conception of God from 
all excessive rationalization. And so far they were right. 
Where they were wrong and sank into anthropomorphism 
was in defending, not figurative anger and emotion , but 
literal anger and emotion, misconceiving the numinous character 
of the attributes in question and holding them simply to be 
natural attributes, taken absolutely, instead of realizing that 
they can only be admitted as figurative indications of some 
thing essentially non-rational by means of symbols drawn from 
feelings that have analogy to it. 

We find the power of the numinous in its phase of the 
mysterious to excite and intensify the imagination displayed 
with particular vividness in Ezekiel. Here are to be classed 
Ezekiel s dreams and parables and fanciful delineation of 
God s being and sovereign state, which are, as it were, an 
example by anticipation of the later more spurious sort of 
excitement of the religious impulse to the mysterious, leading 
(in accordance with analogies already expounded) to the 
merely strange, the extraordinary, the marvellous, and the 
fantastic. When such an operation of the religious conscious 
ness works itself out in accordance with a wrong analogy, the 
way is prepared for miracle and legend and the whole dream- 

tion ; Jer. xxiii. 36 ; 2 Mace. vii. 33 ; Matt. xxvi. 63 (the adjuration by 
the liriny God , the God of terror and dread); and Heb. x. 31 : It is a 
fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. The Old Testa 
ment idea of the terrible living God reaches its completion in the ideas 
of the avenging God , of which the most ruthless expression is in the appalling image of the treader of the wine-press, ISA. Ixiii. 3 : I will 
tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury ; and their blood 
shall be sprinkled upon my garments and I will Rtain all my raiment. 
The dreadful image recurs in the New Testament in Rev. xix. 15 : He 
treadeth the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 


world of pseudo-mysticism ; and, though these are all truly 
enough emanations from the genuine religious experience, they 
are emanations broken by the opaque, dull medium through 
which they pass, a mere substitute for the genuine thing, and 
they end in a vulgar rankness of growth that overspreads 
the pure feeling of the mysterium as it really is and chokes 
its direct and forthright emotional expression. 

But, if Ezekiel hardly shows the numinous moment apart 
from an admixture of excessive fantasy and imagination, the 
same is not true of the Book of Job. In the 38th chapter of 
Job we have the element of the mysterious displayed in 
rare purity and completeness, and this chapter may well rank 
among the most remarkable in the history of religion. Job 
has been reasoning with his friends against Elohim, and as 
far as concerns them he has been obviously in the right. 
They are compelled to be dumb before him. And then Elohim 
Himself appears to conduct His own defence in person. And 
He conducts it to such effect that Job avows himself to be 
overpowered, truly and rightly overpowered, not merely 
silenced by superior strength. Then he confesses : There 
fore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes. That 
is an admission of inward convincement and conviction, 
not of impotent collapse and submission to merely superior 
power. Nor is there here at all the frame of mind to which 
St. Paul now and then gives utterance ; e.g. Rom. ix. 20: 
Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast 
thou made me thus ? Hath not the potter power over the 
clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and 
another unto dishonour ? To interpret the passage in Job 
thus would be a misunderstanding of it. This chapter does 
not proclaim, as Paul does, the renunciation of, the realization 
of the impossibility of, a theodicy ; rather, it aims at putting 
forward a real theodicy of its own, and a better one than that 
of Job s friends ; a theodicy able to convict even a Job, and 
not only to convict him, but utterly to still every inward 
doubt that assailed his soul. For latent in the weird expe 
rience that Job underwent in the revelation of Elohim is 
at once an inward relaxing of his soul s anguish and an 


appeasement, an appeasement which would alone and in itself 
perfectly suffice as the solution of the problem of the Book 
of Job, even without Job s rehabilitation in chapter xlii, 
where recovered prosperity comes as an extra payment thrown 
in after quittance has been already rendered. But what is this 
strange moment of experience that here operates at once as 
a vindication of God to Job and a reconciliation of Job to God? 
In the words put into the mouth of Elohim nearly every note 
is sounded which the situation may prepare one to expect 
a priori: the summons to Job, and the demonstration of God s 
overwhelming power, His sublimity and greatness, and His 
surpassing wisdom. This last would yield forthwith a plausible 
and rational solution of the whole problem, if only the argu 
ment were here completed with some such sentences as : My 
ways are higher than your ways ; in my deeds and my actions 
I have ends that you understand not ; viz. the testing or puri 
fication of the godly man, or ends that concern the whole 
universe as such, into which the single man must fit himself 
with all his sufferings. If you start from rational ideas and 
concepts, you absolutely thirst for such a conclusion to the dis 
course. But nothing of the kind follows ; nor does the chapter 
intend at all to suggest such teleological reflections or solutions. 
In the last resort it relies on something quite different from 
anything that can be exhaustively rendered in rational con 
cepts, namely, on the sheer absolute wondrousness that 
transcends thought, on the mysterium, presented in its pure, 
non-rational form. All the glorious examples from nature 
speak very plainly in this sense. The eagle, that dwelleth 
and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the 
strong place , whose eyes behold afar off" her prey, and 
whose young ones also suck up blood, and where the slain 
are, there is she this eagle is in truth no evidence for the 
ideological wisdom that prepares all cunningly and well , 
but is rather the creature of strangeness and marvel, in whom 
the wondrousness of its creator becomes apparent. And the 
same is true of the ostrich (xxxix. 13-18) with its inexplicable 
instincts. The ostrich is indeed, as here depicted, and ration 
ally considered, a crucial difficulty rather than an evidence of 


wisdom, and it affords singularly little help if we are seeking 
purpose in nature: which leaveth her eggs in the earth, 
and warmeth them in the dust, and forgetteth that the foot 
may crush them or that the wild beast may break them. 
She is hardened against her young ones as though they were 
not hers: her labour is in vain without fear; because God 
hath deprived her of ivisdom, neither hath he imparted to her 

It is the same with the wild ass (verse 5) and the unicorn 
(verse 9). These are beasts whose complete dysteleology 
or negation of purposiveness is truly magnificently depicted ; 
but, nevertheless, with their mysterious instincts and their 
inexplicable behaviour, this very negation of purpose becomes 
a thing of baffling significance, as in the case of the wild 
goat (verse 1) and the hind. The wisdom of the inward 
parts (xxxviii. 36), and the knowledge of dayspring, winds, 
and clouds, with the mysterious ways in which they 
come and go, arise and vanish, shift and veer and re-form ; 
and the wonderful Pleiades aloft in heaven, with Orion and 
Arcturus and his sons these serve but to emphasize the 
same lesson. It is conjectured that the descriptions of the 
hippopotamus (behemoth) and crocodile (leviathan) in xl. 15 ff. 
are a later interpolation. This may well be the fact ; but, 
if so, it must be admitted that the interpolator has felt the 
point of the entire section extraordinarily well. He only 
brings to its grossest expression the thought intended by 
all the other examples of animals ; they gave portents only, 
he gives us monsters but the monstrous is just the 
mysterious in a gross form. Assuredly these beasts would 
be the most unfortunate examples that one could hit upon 
if searching for evidences of the purposefulness of the divine 
wisdom . But they, no less than all the previous examples 
and the whole context, tenor, and sense of the entire passage, 
do express in masterly fashion the downright stupendousness, 
the wellnigh daemonic and wholly incomprehensible character 
of the eternal creative power ; how, incalculable and wholly 
other , it mocks at all conceiving but can yet stir the mind 
to its depths, fascinate and overbrim the heart. What is 


meant is the mysterium not as mysterious simply, but at 
the same time also as fascinating and august ; and here, 
too, these latter meanings live, not in any explicit con 
cepts, but in the tone, the enthusiasm, in the very rhythm 
of the entire exposition. And here is indeed the point of 
the whole passage, comprising alike the theodicy and the 
appeasement and calming of Job s soul. The mysterium, 
simply as such, would merely (as discussed above) be a part 
of the absolute inconceivability of the numen, and that, 
though it might strike Job utterly dumb, could not convict 
him inwardly. That of which we are conscious is rather an 
intrinsic value in the incomprehensible a value inexpressible, 
positive, and fascinating . This is incommensurable with 
thoughts of rational human teleology and is not assimilated 
to them : it remains in all its mystery. But it is as it becomes 
felt in consciousness that Elohim is justified and at the same 
time Job s soul brought to peace. 

A very real parallel to this experience of Job is to be found 
in the work of a writer of our own day, which is not the less 
deeply impressive because it is found in the fictitious context 
of a novel. Max Eyth recounts in his story Berufs-Tragik 
(in the collection Hinter Pjlug und Schraubstock) the build 
ing of the mighty bridge over the estuary of the Ennobucht. 
The most profound and thorough labour of the intellect, the 
most assiduous and devoted professional toil, had gone to the 
construction of the great edifice, making it in all its signifi 
cance and purposefulness a marvel of human achievement. In 
spite of endless difficulties and gigantic obstacles, the bridge 
is at length finished, and stands defying wind and waves. 
Then there comes a raging cyclone, and building and builder 
are swept into the deep. Utter meaninglessness seems to 
triumph over richest significance, blind destiny seems to 
stride on its way over prostrate virtue and merit. The 
narrator tells how he visits the scene of the tragedy and 
returns again. 

When we got to the end of the bridge, there was hardly 

a 2 


a breath of wind ; high above, the sky showed blue-green, 
and with an eerie brightness. Behind us, like a great open 
grave, lay the Ennobucht. The Lord of life and death hovered 
over the waters in silent majesty. We felt His presence, as 
one feels one s own hand. And the old man and I knelt down 
before the open grave and before Him. 

Why did they kneel ? Why did they feel constrained to do 
so ? One does not kneel before a cyclone or the blind forces of 
nature, nor even before Omnipotence merely as such. But 
one does kneel before the wholly uncomprehended Mystery, 
revealed yet unrevealed, and one s soul is stilled by feeling 
the way of its working, and therein its justification. 

It would be possible to cite many other traces of numinous 
feeling in the Old Testament. But they have already been 
admirably put together by one who wrote sixteen hundred 
years ago in the same sense as we upon the non-rational . 
This was Chrysostom. We shall be considering him later on 
and will not anticipate further in this place. 1 

1 See Appendix I. 


I.v the Gospel of Jesus we see the consummation of that 
process tending to rationalize, moralize, and humanize the 
idea of God, which began with the earliest period of the old 
Hebrew tradition and became specially prominent as a living 
factor in the Prophets and the Psalms, continually bringing 
the apprehension of the numinous to a richer fulfilment by 
recognizing in it attributes of clear and profound value for 

r* o + 

the reason. The result was the faith in the fatherhood of 
God in that unsurpassable form in which it is peculiar to 

But in this case, too, it would be a mistake to think that 
such a rationalization means that the numinous is excluded 
or superseded. That is a misunderstanding into which we 
are led by the all too plausible delineations of Jesus s faith in 
the fatherhood of God now prevalent, but it certainly mis 
represents the attitude of the first Christian congregations. The 
error is only possible if we disregard in the message of Christ 
that which it really purports to be, first, last, and all the time, 
viz. the Gospel of the Kingdom. As against all rationalizing 
attempts to tone it down into something less startling, the 
most recent research shows quite decisively that the kingdom 
is just greatness and marvel absolute, the wholly other 
heavenly thing, set in contrast to the world of here and 
now, the mysterious itself in its dual character as awe- 
compelling yet all-attracting, glimmering in an atmosphere of 
genuine religious awe . As such, it sheds a colour, a mood, 
a tone, upon whatever stands in relation to it, upon the men 


who proclaim it or prepare for it, upon the life and practice 
that are its precondition, upon the tidings of it, upon the 
congregation of those who await it and attain to it. All is 
made into a mystery all, that is, becomes numinous . 
This is shown most strikingly in the name by which the 
company of the disciples call themselves collectively and each 
other individually, the numinous technical term ot ayioi, 
the holy ones or the Saints . It is manifest at once that 
this does not mean the morally perfect people : it means 
the people who participate in the mystery of the final Day. 
Their title is the clear and unambiguous antithesis to the 
term the profane , which we have already met with. For 
this reason the early Christians are able later to call them 
selves also actually a priestly or sacerdotal people , that 
is, a group of consecrated persons. But the precondition 
of all this was given with the Gospel itself and its claim to be 
the preaching of the coming Kingdom. 

What of the lord of this kingdom, the heavenly Father 1 
As its lord He is not less, but far more holy , numinous , 
mysterious, qadosh , d y*oy, sacer , and sanctus than His 
kingdom. He is all these in an absolute decree, and in this 

O O 

aspect of His nature He represents the sublimation and the 
consummation of all that the old Covenant had grasped by way 
of creature-consciousness , holy awe , and the like. Not to 
realize this is to turn the Gospel of Jesus into a mere idyll. 
That these moments do not occur severally in Jesus s message 
in the form of special doctrines is due to the circumstances 
already mentioned more than once. But apart from the 
inherent impossibility of teaching them, how could He have 
had need of teaching what was simply the primary, self- 
evident fact to every Jew, and especially to every believer in 
the Kingdom , namely, that God was the Holy One in Israel ? 
Christ had rather to teach and to proclaim what was not 
self-evident to the Jews, but His own original discovery and 
revelation, that this very Holy One is a heavenly Father . 
This point of view necessarily occupied the whole of His 
teaching , and all the more so because it was the point of 
view thrust sharply into the foreground by the two opposed 


influences of His time, against both of which the Gospel came 
historically as a reaction. On the one hand was Pharisaism, 
with its servitude to Law ; on the other, John the Baptist, 
with his harsh, ascetic interpretation of God ; and, in con 
trast to both, the Gospel of the Sonhood of man and the 
Fatherhood of God came as the easy yoke, the light burden. 
But though it is necessarily this new message that the parables 
and discourses and pronouncements of Jesus complete and fill 
out, it is in such a way that it always remains an over 
whelming and daring paradox, claiming our utmost homage, 
that He who is in heaven is yet our Father . That that 
1 heavenly Being of marvel and mystery and awe is Himself 
the eternal, benignant, gracious will : this is the resolved 
contrast that first brings out the deep-felt harmony in true 
Christian experience; and the harmony cannot be heard 
aright by the man whose ear does not detect always sounding 
in it this sublimated seventh . 

It is significant, and yet again so natural, that the first 
petition in the prayer of the Christian fellowship is : Hallowed 
be Thy name. What I have already said should make the 
meaning of this clear in its connexion with the Biblical mean 
ing of the word. And we can sometimes detect, even in the 
teaching of Jesus, notes still vibrating which seem to suggest 
a trace of that weird awe and shuddering dread before the 
mysteries of the transcendent of which we have already 
spoken. Such a passage is Matthew x. 28 : But fear him 
which is able to (.kstroy both soul and lody in hell 

The dark and awful ring of this saying cannot be missed, and 
it is a rationalization of it merely to refer it to the Judge and 
His judgement on the Last Day. The same note rings out again 
clearly in the saying in Hebrews x. 31 : It is a fearful thing 
to fall into the hands of the living God ; and in Hebrews xii. 
X"J : Our God is a consuming fire. (Here the adaptation of 
Deuteronomy iv. 24 : The Lord is a consuming fire into Our 
God is a consuming lire gives a contrast whose ettect enhances 
the horror of the saying.) And when occasion demands it 
the Old Testament God of vengeance recurs even in the 
teaching of Jesus Himself, unveiled and in His own authentic 


character ; as, for instance, in Matthew xxi. 41 : He will 
miserably destroy those wicked men. 

Finally, it is in the light of, and with the background of, 
this numinous experience, with its mystery and its awe 
its mykterium tremendum that Christ s Agony in the night 
of Gethsemane must be viewed, if we are to comprehend or 
realize at all in our own experience what the import of that 
agony was. What is the cause of this * sore amazement and 
heaviness , this soul shaken to its depths, exceeding sorrow 
ful even unto death , and this sweat that falls to the ground 
like great drops of blood ? Can it be ordinary fear of death 
in the case of one who had had death before his eyes for 
weeks past and who had just celebrated with clear intent his 
death-feast with his disciples ? No, there is more here than 
the fear of death ; there is the awe of the creature before the 
mysterium tremendum , before the shuddering secret of the 
numen. And the old tales come back into our mind as 
strangely parallel and, as it were, prophetically significant, 
the tales of Yahweh who waylaid Moses by night, and 
of Jacob who wrestled with God until the breaking of the 
day . He had power with God . . . and prevailed , with the 
God of Wrath and Fury , with the numen, which yet is 
itself My Father . In truth even those who cannot recog 
nize the Holy One of Israel elsewhere in the God of the 
Gospel must at least discover Him here, if they have eyes to 
see at all. 

I have no need to dwell upon the numinous atmosphere 
pervading the writings of St. Paul. God dwelleth in a light 
that none may come nigh. The over-aboundingness of the 
idea of God and the feeling of God leads with Paul to the 
special terminology and experiences of Mysticism. 1 But it is 

1 As a provisional definition of Mysticism I would suggest that, while 
sharing the nature of religion, it shows a preponderance of its non-rational 
elements and an over-stressing of them in respect to the overabounding 
aspect of the numen . A type of religious experience acquires mystical 
colouring if it shows an inclination to Mysticism. In this sense 
Christianity since St. Paul and St. John is not Mysticism, but religion 
with a mystical colouring. And this is justified. 


not confined to these: it can be seen alive through all his 
utterances in the feelings of exalted enthusiasm and his 


spiritual terminology of the pneuma , which are alike far 
removed from the merely rational side of Christian piety. 
His dualistic depreciation of the Flesh , as of all that pertains 
to creaturehood, is that numinous self-disvaluation spoken 
of on pp. 52 ff. carried to its extreme. These catastrophes 
and sudden reversals that befall the religious conscious 
ness, the tragedy of sin and guilt, or again the glow of 
beatitic joy, are only possible and intelligible on the basis 
of numinous experience. And just as the opyr) Stov with 
St. Paul is more than the mere reaction of righteous retri 
bution, just as it is permeated by the awefulness of the 
numinous, so on the other side is the fascination of the 
experienced love of God, that bears the spirit beyond its 
boundaries into the third heaven, more than the mere con 
summation of the natural human feeling of a child for its 
parent. The opyr] &eov is potently and vividly present in the 
grand passage in Romans i. 18 ff., where we recognize directly 
the jealous, passionate Yahweh of the Old Testament, here 
grown to a God of the Universe of fearful power, who pours 
out the blazing vials of His wrath over the whole world. In this 
passage there is an intuition, genuinely non-rational in char 
acter, the sublimity of which has an almost horrible quality : 
that the commission of sin is the angry God s punishment for 
bin. St. Paul reiterates this thought so intolerable, if con 
sidered rationally in three separate verses. Wherefore 
God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of 
their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between 
themselves (Romans i. 24) ; For this cause God gave them up 
unto vile affections (i. 26) ; God gave them over to a repro 
bate mind, .. . being filled with all unrighteousness , &c. 
(i. 28, 29). 

To feel the full weight and force of this intuition it is 
necessary to escape a far as possible from the mental 
atmosphere of our dogmatic interpretations and judiciously 
toned-down catechisms, and to try to recapture the awe that 
could be felt by the Jew toward the fury of Yahweh, by the 


Hellenistic Greek toward the horror of Heimarmene or Destiny, 
and by primitive man in general toward the ira deorum or 
anger of the gods. 

There is one other point in the teaching of Paul that 
demands notice in this connexion his doctrine of predestina 
tion. It is perhaps precisely the * rationalist who feels most 
directly that with the idea of predestination we are standing 
on downright non-rational ground. Nothing remains so 
alien to the rationalist as this doctrine. And from his point of 
view he is quite right; from the standpoint of the rational 
this notion of predestination is a sheer absurdity, an absolute 
offence. Let him acquiesce in all the paradoxes of the Trinity 
and Christology, predestination will yet remain perpetually to 
confront him as a stumbling-block. 

Not, as need hardly be said, in the form in which it has 
been put forward since the time of Schleiermacher, following 
the tradition of Leibniz and Spinoza. That is simply a 
capitulation to Natural Law and causae secundae , a sur 
render to the claim of modern Psychology that all human 
resolves and actions are subject to the compelling force of 
motives, so that a man is unfree and predetermined thereby. 
And so, this predetermination by nature, having been identified 
with the all-embracing efficacy of God, in the end the outcome 
of the profound and purely religious intuition of divine pre 
determination which has no concern at all with laws of 
nature is the comparatively trivial scientific notion of uni 
versal causal connexion. There can be no more spurious product 
of theological speculation, no more fundamental falsification of 
religious conceptions than this ; and it is certainly not against 
this that the Rationalist feels an antagonism, for it is itself 
a piece of solid rationalism, but at the same time a complete 
abandonment of the real religious idea of predestination . 

This false scientific interpretation of predestination 
having been put aside, it may be shown that as a religious idea 
it springs from two sources and has two quite distinct aspects, 
which should be distinguished by separate names. The one 
is election , the other striking an essentially different note 
predestination proper. 


The idea of election i. e. of having been chosen out and 
pre-ordained by God unto salvation is an immediate and pure 
expression of the actual religious experience of grace. The 
recipient of divine grace feels and knows ever more and 
more surely, as he looks back on his past, that he has not grown 
into his present self through any achievement or effort of his 
own, and that, apart from his own will or power, grace was 
imparted to him, grasped him, impelled, and led him. And 
even the resolves and decisions that were most his own and 
most free become to him, without losinnr the element of free- 


dom, something that he experienced rather than did. Before 
every deed of his own he sees love the deliverer in action, seek 
ing and selecting, and acknowledges that an eternal gracious 
purpose is watching over his life. But this preordainment 
is purely a preordainment unto salvation and has in itself 
nothing to do with the praedestinatio ambigua , the predeter 
mination of all men either to be saved or to be damned. The 
rational and logical conclusion of course would be that, if he 
is elected of God but others are not, God, in appointing the 
elect to bliss, determines also the rejected for damnation. 
But this conclusion is not, and must not be, drawn, for what 
we are concerned with is a religious intuition which, as such, 
stands alone and is only warrant for itself, and which indeed 
is outraged by any attempt to weave it into a system or 
make it yield a series of inferences. In this respect Schleier- 
rnacher is quite right when he says in his Discourses upon 
Religion 1 : Every (sc. religious) intuition is a self-subsistent 
work . . . knowing nothing of derivation and point of 

So much for election . From it must be distinguished 
predestination proper, as it appears in St. Paul, e. g. Romans 
ix. 18 : Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will, and whom 
He will He hardeneth. 

It is true that the thought of election , prominent in 
St. Paul, can be detected here as well. But the reflection in 
v. iiO is obviously the utterance of quite a different frame of 
mind : Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against 

1 Schleierm&cher, IteJtn Hberdie Religion, ed. K. Otto, 4th ed., pp. 37-8. 


God ? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why 
hast thou made me thus ? That is a line of thought wholly 
out of keeping with the set of ideas centring about election . 
And yet even less can it be derived from any abstractly 
theoretic doctrine of the all-causing nature of God. Such 
a doctrine we find in Zwingli, and with him it does indeed 
give rise to a doctrine of predestination , but one that is 
rather the artificial product of philosophical speculation than 
the result of immediate religious experience. The true pre 
destination , springing directly from religious intuition, has 
its origin beyond question in St. Paul. But in him it is easily 
recognized as the numinous feeling in face of the mysterium 
tremendum ; and that unique phase of it that we met with above 
(pp. 9 ff.) in the narrative of Abraham recurs here in a signally 
intensified form. For the religious conception in the notion of 
predestination is nothing but that creature-consciousness , 
that self-abasement and the annulment of personal strength 
and claims and achievements in the presence of the trans 
cendent, as such. The numen, overpoweringly experienced, 
becomes the all in all. The creature, with his being and doing, 
his * willing and running (Rom. ix. 16), his schemes and 
resolves, becomes nothing. The conceptual expression to 
indicate such a felt submergence and annihilation over against 
the numen is then here impotence and there omnipotence- 
here the futility of one s own choice, there the will that 
ordains all and determines all. 

It is next to be noted that predestination in this sense, 
as identical with the absolute supremacy of the numen, has 
nothing whatever to do with the unfree will of Determinism . 
Rather, it finds very frequently precisely in the free will of 
the creature the contrast which makes it stand out so pro 
minently. Will what thou wilt and how thou canst ; plan 
and choose ; yet must all come about as it shall and as is 
determined : that is the earliest and most genuine expression 
of the matter. In face of the eternal power man is reduced to 
nought, together with his free choice and action. And the 
eternal power waxes immeasurable just because it fulfils its 
decrees despite the freedom of human will. This is the aspect 


of the matter designedly thrust into the foreground in many 
typical Mohammedan narratives which profess to display the 
inflexibility of the decrees of Allah. In these, men are able to 
devise and decide and reject ; but, however they choose or act, 
Allah s eternal will is accomplished to the very day and hour 
that was ordained. The purport of this is precisely, not that 
God and God alone is an active cause, but rather that the 
activity of the creature, be it never so vigorous and free, is 
overborne and determined absolutely by the eternal operative 
purpose. 1 The thought of the deity as the absolutely sole and 
all-embracing active cause first occurs where the creature- 


feeling is intensified still further, and is at the same time 
combined with theoretic considerations. It then leads to 
Mystic-ism; and it is only again a further consequence if the 
speculations about Being, peculiar to and characteristic of 
Mysticism, become then attached to the thought of God as sole 
cause. To the creature then is denied, not merely efficacy 
as a cause, but true reality and complete being, and all existence 
and fullness of being is ascribed to the absolute entity, who 
alone really is, while all being of creatures is either a function 
of this absolute Being which brings them into existence or 
mere illusion. This sequence of ideas is found in particularly 
explicit form in the Mysticism of Geulincx and the Occa- 
sionalists. Ubi nihil vales, ibi nihil velis. Sometimes we 
hear the same mystical chord in St. Paul also, as in his 
mysterious saying about the final issue of all things, where 

1 The story told by Bcidhavi, an expositor of the Koran, illustrates this : 
Once when Asrael, the angel of Death, came before Solomon he directed his 
gaze upon one of the king s companions. Who is that? asked the 
man. The angel of Death, replied Solomon. He seems to be looking 
at me, continued the other, BO command the wind that it bear me hence 
and set me down in India. Solomon did so. Then said the Angel, 
I gazed upon him for BO long out of astonishment, seeing it had been 
commanded me to fetch his soul out of India, while he was yet with thee 
in Canaan. This is a predestination which presupposes free will just as 
its foil. However freely man makes his plans, Allah has always set his 

[This Btoiy is told in verse by Leigh Hunt in his poem The Inevitable ; 
cf. Oxford ed. (1922), pp. 95-6. (Trans.)] 


God shall be all in all . But the passage in Romans is differ 
ent. It goes no farther than the thought of predestination 
itself; and predestination we have found to be nothing but 
the intensified creature-feeling in conceptual expression, and 
to be altogether rooted in the numinous consciousness. 

A further consideration may make it plainer that this must 
be so. If it be really true that the consciousness of the 
numinous, as creature-feeling , is the root of the predestina 
tion idea, then we should expect that the form of religious 
faith marked by an undue and exaggerated insistence on the 
non-rational elements in the idea of God would also lean most 
markedly to predestination. And such is obviously the case. 
No religion has such a leaning to predestination as Islam ; and 
the special quality of Islam is just that in it, from its commence 
ment onwards, the rational and specifically moral aspect of the 
idea of God was unable to acquire the firm and clear impress 
that it won, e. g., in Christianity or Judaism. In Allah the 
numinous is absolutely preponderant over everything else. So 
that, when Islam is criticized for giving a merely fortuitous 
character to the claim of morality, as though the moral law 
were only valid through the chance caprice of the deity, the 
criticism is well justified, only chance and fortuitousness have 
nothing to do with the matter. The explanation is rather that 
the numinous in Allah, nay, even his uncanny and daemonic 
character, outweighs what is rational in him. And this will 
account for what is commonly called the fanatical character 
of this religion. Strongly excited feeling of the numen, that 
runs to frenzy, untempered by the more rational elements of 
religious experience that is everywhere the very essence of 

The above interpretation of the notion of predestination 
gives at the same time our estimate of it. It is an attempted 
statement, in conceptual terms and by analogy, of something 
that at bottom is incapable of explication by concepts. Fully 
justified in this sense as an analogical expression, it is wholly 
unjustified ( summum jus becoming summa injuria ) if its 
character as analogy is missed, so that it is taken as an adequate 
formulation of theological theory. In that case it is disastrous 


and intolerable to a rational religion like Christianity, in spite 
of the attempts that are made to render it innocuous by all the 
arts of evasion and mitigation. 

There is another element in the thought of Paul besides 
his notion of predestination that is rooted in the numinous: 
I refer to his utter depreciation of the Flesh . The Flesh 
with Paul is simply the condition of the creature in general. 
And this is utterly disparaged and depreciated by the numinous 
consciousness (as we saw on pp. 9 ff., 52 ff.) in contrast to the 
transcendent, both in regard to its existence and its value ; in 
respect to the first as Dust and ashes , nothingness , in 
sufficient, weak, transient, and perishing, and in respect to the 
second as the profane , the impure, which is unable to assume 
the worth of holiness or to come into its presence. We find 
these two same sorts of depreciation among the ideas of Paul, 
and the specifically Pauline feature in them is only the vigour 
and completeness with which he expresses them. It is a quite 
separate question whence Paul derives this intensity in his 
denunciation and depreciation of the Flesh , whether it is 
original to him or stimulated by the dualistic environment 
of thought in which he moved. As has been already said, one 
can determine nothing about the essential nature or the value 
of a thing by tracing its genesis and continuous historic 
derivation from other sources. And at least we may main 
tain that Paul might well be stimulated to this emphatic 
expression by many genuine cases of the numinous experience 
recorded in the Old Testament. There too Basar, the flesh, 
is both the principle of being dust and ashes and the 
principle of the pollution of the creature in the presence of 

In St. John, no less than in St. Paul, there is a strong strain 
of the numinous. The element of awefulness , it is true, dies 
away in him, as so commonly in mysticism, without ever 
quite vanishing, for, jxice Kitsch], even in John the wrath of 
God abideth (John iii. 36) ; but this only makes the elements 
of mystery and fascination the stronger, even in their 
mystical form. In John, Christianity absorbs 0o>y and far/, 
light 1 and life , into itself from the religions at rivalry with 


it ; l and justly so, for only in Christianity do they win home. 
But what is this light and this life"? Not to feel what 
they are is to be made of wood, but none can express it. They 
are a sheer abounding overplus of the non-rational element 
in religion. 

And the same is true even of that saying of St. John to 
which the Rationalists are so specially fond of referring : God 
is a Spirit (John iv. 24). This was the text on account of which 
Hegel held Christianity to be the highest because the most 
truly spiritual (geistig) religion. But Hegel meant by spirit 
the * absolute reason . St. John when he speaks of 7n>e5/za is 
not thinking of absolute reason but of that which is in 
absolute contrast to everything of the world and the flesh , 
the utterly mysterious and miraculous heavenly Being who 
surpasses all the understanding and reason of the natural 
man. He is thinking of that Spirit which bloweth where 
it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell 
whence it cometh and whither it goeth the Spirit which 
just on that account is not confined to Zion or Gerizim, and 
whose worship is only for those who are themselves in spirit 
and in truth . So that this saying, apparently wholly rational 
in import, is itself the strongest and clearest indication of the 
non-rational element in the Biblical idea of God. 2 

1 And thereby drains these religions of their life-blood, according to 
the right of the stronger . And henceforth these elements belong to 
Christianity indissolubly as ita very own. For 

Wenn gtarke Geisteskraft 

Die Elemente 

An sich herangerafft : 

Kein Engel trennte 

Geeinte Zwienatur 

Der innigen Beiden 

and still less can the criticism of scholars! [ When the vigour of the 
spirit has gathered the elements into itself, then may no angel sunder 
the double nature now made single of the united twain. ] 

2 Compare with this chapter my recently published book Reich Gottes 
und Menschensohn. 


IN Catholicism the feeling of the numinous is to be found 
as a living factor of singular power. It is seen in Catholic 
forms of worship and sacramental symbolism, in the less 
authentic forms assumed by legend and miracle, in the para 
doxes and mysteries of Catholic dogma, in the Platonic and 
neo- Platonic strands woven into the fabric of its religious 
conceptions, in the solemnity of churches and ceremonies, and 
especially in the intimate rapport of Catholic piety with 
Mysticism. For reasons already suggested, the mysterious 
is much less in evidence in the oflicial systems of doctrine, 
whether Catholic or Protestant. Particularly since the time 
when the great mediaeval scholastics (the theologi moderni , 
so called) replaced Plato by Aristotle and welded the latter 
and his method on to the doctrines of the Church, Catholic 
orthodoxy has been subjected to a strong rationalizing influ 
ence, to which, however, actual living religious practice 
and feeling never conformed or corresponded. The battle 
here joined between so-called Platonism and Aristotelian- 
ism , and in general the long persistent protest against the 
scholastics, is itself in lar^e part nothing but the stru^le 

O A O -s 

between the rational and the non-rational elements in the 
Christian religion. And the same antithesis is clearly opera 
tive as a factor in Luther s protest against Aristotle and the 
1 theologi moderni . 

At that time Plato himself was known (very imperfectly) 
chiefly through the interpretations and misinterpretations 
of him by Augustine, Plotinus, and Dionysius the Areopagite. 
Yet it was a true feeling that led the contrasted attitudes of 



mind to choose the names of Plato and Aristotle as their 
battle-cries. Plato did indeed make a powerful contribution 
towards the rationalization of his religion, for according to 
his philosophy the deity had to become identical with the 
Idea of the Good , and consequently something wholly rational 
and conceivable. But the most remarkable characteristic of 
Plato s thought is just that he himself finds science and 
philosophy too narrow to comprise the whole of man s mental 
life. He has indeed properly no Philosophy of Religion ; he 
grasps the object of religion by quite different means than 
those of conceptual thinking, viz. by the ideograms of myth, 
by enthusiasm or inspiration, eros or love, * mania or the 
divine frenzy. He abandons the attempt to bring the object 
of religion into one system of knowledge with the objects of 
science (cTnori} //?;), i.e. reason, and it becomes something 
not less but greater thereby; while at the same time it is 
just this that allows the sheer non-rational aspect of it to be 
so vividly felt in Plato, and indeed vividly expressed as well 
as felt. No one has enunciated more definitively than this 
master-thinker that God transcends all reason, in the sense 
that He is beyond the powers of our conceiving, not merely 
beyond our powers of comprehension. 

Therefore is it an impossible task both to discover the 
Creator and Father of this Whole Universe and to publish 
the discovery of him in words for all to understand. J 

Aristotle s thought is much more theological than Plato s, 
but his temper is far less religious ; and at the same time his 
theology is absolutely rationalistic. And this contrast between 
the two is repeated among those who profess themselves 
Platonists or Aristotelians . 

1 Timaeus, 28 C TOV /zeV ovv TTOITJT^ KOI Trartpa roCSf TOU iravrbs evpdv r( 
fpyov /cat (vpovra tls iravTas ativvarov \tyciv. For the non-rational and 
supra- rational strain in Plato the reader is referred to von Wilamowitz- 
Mollendorff, Plato, i. 418: and especially to the splendid passage from 
Plato s seventh letter : 341 C : Concerning these things (sc. ultimate 
truth) there is not, nor will there be, any treatise written by me. For 
they do not at all admit of being expounded in writing, as do objects of 
other (scientific) studies. . . . Only after long, arduous conversance with 
the matter itself ... a light suddenly breaks upon the soul as from a kindled 


Another influence which orthodox doctrine underwent, from 
the earliest patristic period onwards, and which tended to 
weaken the non-rational element in religion, came from the 
acceptance of the ancient theory of the divine dirdOfia or 
immunity from passiorf. The God of Greek, and especially 
of Stoic, theology was constructed after the ideal of the 
4 Wise man , who achieves this apathy by the overcoming 
of his passions and affections ; and the attempt was now 
made to assimilate this God to the living God of Scripture. 
And, as intimated above, an effective if unconscious factor 
in this contest was the antithesis between the non-rational 
and the rational aspects of the deity. Lactantius, in his De Ira Del, illustrates particularly strikingly this 
fight against the God of the philosophers. He uses the same 
wholly rational terms, taken from man s emotional life, as 
do his opponents, but raises them to a higher power, so that 
he makes God, as it were, a gigantic mind, quick with an 
immense vitality. But whoever in this way contends for the 
living God is at the same time contending unwittingly for 
the divine in God, that which cannot be reduced to Idea 
world-order, moral order, principle of Being, or purposive 
will. And many of Lactantius s own expressions point of 
themselves to something beyond. Thus, quoting Plato, he 
says: Quid omnino sit Deus, non esse quaerendum : quia 
nee inveniri possit nee enarrari. 1 He is in general fond of 
emphasizing the incomprehensibilitas of God: Quern nee 
aestimare eensu valeat humana mens nee eloqui lingua morta- 
lis. Sublimior enim ac maior est, quam ut possit aut cogita- 
tione hominis aut sermone comprehendi. 2 He is fond of the 
expression maiestas Dei , and blames the philosophers for 

flume, and once born keeps alive of itself. . . . Only to a few men is the 
exposition of those things of any profit, and they only need a slight 
indication of them for their discovery. 

1 Kd. Fritsche, p. 227: We ought not to ask what God is altogether; 
for it can neither be discovered by any nor utated in words. 

1 Ibid., p. 116: (God) whom the human mind has no power to appraise, 
nor tongue of mortals to utter. For he is too sublime and too great to be 
grasped in the thought or the speech of man. 

H 2 


misjudging the unique majesty of God. And he feels the 
tremendum in the maiestas when he asserts that God 
is wroth , and demands awe as a fundamental characteristic 
of religion when he says: Ita fit, ut religio et maiestas 
et honor metu constet. Metus autem non est, ubi nullus 
irascitur. l He says that a God who cannot be angry cannot 
love either: and a God that knows neither love nor anger 
would be immobilis and not the Deus vivus , the living 
God of Scripture. 

This ancient battle of Lactantius against the dens philo- 
sophorum comes to life again in the Middle Ages in Duns 
Scotus s battle for the God of Willing , as opposed to the God 
of Being , and for the validity of volition as an essential 
in religion, as opposed to cognition . And the non-rational 
elements which are still latent in Duns Scotus break out 
openly in Luther in a whole series of some of his most 
characteristic thoughts. 

This aspect of Luther s religion was later tacitly expunged, 
and is to-day readily dismissed as not the authentic Luther , 
or as a residuum of the scholastic speculations of the nomi 
nalists . But, if that is so, it is strange that this residuum 
of Scholasticism exercised such a power in Luther s own 
mental life as it palpably did. In point of fact this is not 
a residuum at all, but beyond all question the mysterious 
background of his religious life, obscure and uncanny , and 
to estimate it in all its power and profundity we need to 
abstract the lucid bliss and joyfulness of Luther s faith in the 
divine grace, and to see this faith in relation to the back 
ground of that mysterious experience on which it rests. It 
matters not from what source, whether nominalism or the 
traditional teaching of his Order, his consciousness was first 
stirred; we have in any case in Luther the numinous con 
sciousness at first hand, stirred and agitated through its 
typical moments , as we have come to know them. It is 
a corroboration that these moments appear in Luther in 

1 Thus it comes that religion and majesty and honour depend upon 
fear. But there is no fear where none is angry. 


their completed series, and so point back to the common basis 
that unites them all. 

(1) We are not here concerned with the many strands, 
strong at the outset, weaker later, but never altogether dis 
appearing, that connect him with Mysticism. Nor are we 
concerned with the surviving effects of the numinous element 
of the Catholic worship in his doctrine of the Eucharist, 
which cannot be wholly derived either from his doctrine of 
the forgiveness of sins or from his deference to the written 
word of scripture. Let us rather consider Luther s mirae 
speculations upon the unrevealed in God in contrast to 
the facies Dei revelata (revealed face of God), upon the 
divina maiestas and the omnipotentia Dei in contrast to 
his gratia , as he treats of them in his work De Servo 
ArlUrio. The investigation as to how far Luther took over 
1 doctrines from Scotus does not amount to much ; they stand 
in most intimate connexion with his own innermost religious 
life, of which they are a genuine first-hand utterance, and 
should be examined as such. Luther himself guarantees 
expressly that he does not teach such things merely as subjects 
of dispute in the schools or as philosophical deductions and 
corollaries, but because they are a central part of the religious 
experience of the Christian, who must know them in order 
to have faith and to have life. He rejects the cautious fore 
sight of Erasmus s view, that such things should at least be 
withheld from the common people, preaching them himself 
in public sermons (e.g. upon Exodus, in reference to the 
hardening of Pharaoh s heart) and writing them in his letter 
to the men of Antwerp. And again, just before his death, 
speaking of his book De Servo Arbitrio, in which these 
ideas stand clearly expressed, Luther acknowledges that 
nothing he wrote was so truly his own. 

Is this borne out in his general teaching? His words in 
the Great Catechism, To have a God is nothing else than 
to trust Him from the heart , might seem to imply the 
negative. And certainly to Luther God is He who overbrims 
with pure goodness . Yet this same Luther knows depths 
and abysses in the Godhead that make his heart despond, 


from which he flees for refuge to the Word , like a hare to 
his cleft in the rocks , flees, it may be, to the Sacrament or 
to absolution, or to the comforting official pronouncements 
of Dr. Pommeranus, but in general no less to every word of 
comfort or promise in the Psalms and the Prophets. But 
that before which his soul quails again and again in awe is 
not merely the stern Judge, demanding righteousness for 
He is wholly a God of revelation but rather at the same 
time God in His unrevealedness , in the aweful majesty of 
His very Godhead ; He before whom trembles not simply the 
transgressor of the law, but the creature, as such, in his 
uncovered creaturehood. Luther even ventures to designate 
this awe-inspiring, non-rational character of deity as Deus 
ipse, ut est in sua natura et maiestate 1 (an assumption which 
would be in fact a dangerous and erroneous one; for no 
distinction of the non-rational and the rational aspects of 
God should imply that the latter is less essential than the 

The passages relevant in this connexion from Luther s De 
Servo Arbitrio are cited often enough: but to understand 
the wellnigh daemonic character of this numinous feeling the 
reader should particularly note the effect of the following 
passage from Luther s sermon on Exodus xx. The preacher 
leaves no means untried to bring out effectively the element 
of numinous horror in his text : 

Yea, for the world it seemeth as though God were a mere 
silly yawner, with mouth ever agape, or a cuckold, who lets 
another lie with his wife and feigneth that he sees it not/ 

But * He assaileth a man, and hath such a delight therein 
that He is of His Jealousy and Wrath impelled to consume 
the wicked . 

Then shall we learn how that God is a consuming 
fire, . . . That is then the consuming, devouring fire. 
Wilt thou sin ? Then will He devour thee up. For God is 
a fire, that consumeth, devoureth, rageth ; verily He is your 
undoing, as fire consumeth a house and maketh it dust and 

1 God Himself, as He is in his own very nature and majesty. 


And in another place : 

Yea, He is more terrible and frightful than the Devil. 
For He dealeth with us and bringeth us to ruin with power, 
smiteth and hammereth us and payeth no heed to us. In 
His majesty He is a consuming lire. For therefrom can 
no man refrain : if he thinketh on God aright, his heart in 
his body is struck with terror . . . Yea, as soon as he heareth 
God named, he is filled with trepidation and fear. 1 

It is the absolute numen , felt here partially in its aspect 
of maiestas and tremenduin . And the reason I introduced 
these terms above to denote the one side of the numinous 
experience was in fact just because I recalled Luther s own 
expressions, and borrowed them from his divina maiestas 
and metuenda voluntas , which have rung in my ears from 
the time of my earliest study of Luther. Indeed I grew to 
understand the numinous and its difference from the rational 
in Luther s De Servo Arbitrio long before I identified it in 
the qadosh of the Old Testament and in the elements of 
religious awe in the history of religion in general. 

One must have beheld these gulfs and abysses in Luther to 
understand aright how significant it is that it is the same 
man who on the other hand endeavours to put the whole of 
Christianity into a confiding faith. The same contrast noted 
above in the religion of the Gospel and in the paradoxes of 
the faith in God the Father recurs in the religious experience 
of Luther, but in unexampled intensity. That it is the 
unc^proachalle which becomes approachable, the Holy One 
who is pure goodness, that it is Majesty which makes itself 
familiar and intimate there is the inwardness of the matter } 
and this finds only very dubious expression in the subsequent 
one-sided doctrine of the schools, where the mystical character 
of the Wrath , which is of the essence of holiness infused 
with that of goodness , is referred simply to the righteous 
ness of God, and taken thus as righteous anger or indig 

1 Vide the Erlangen edition of Luther s works, xxxvi, pp. 210 ff., 222, 
231. J37 ; xxxv, p. 167 ; xlvii, p. 145 ; 1, p. 200. 


(2) Once the numinous consciousness has been aroused, it 
is to be expected, seeing that it is a unity, that one of its 
moments will be found to be bound up with the rest. In 
the case of Luther we find next after this element of Wrath 
the numinous manifesting itself in the set of ideas which we 
may fairly call those of Job. The Book of Job, as was seen 
above, is not so much concerned with the awefulness of the 
majesty of the numen as with its mysterious ness ; it is con 
cerned with the non-rational in the sense of the irrational, 
with sheer paradox baffling comprehension, with that which 
challenges the ( reasonable and what might be reasonably 
expected, which goes directly against the grain of reason. 
To this place belong Luther s violent onslaughts upon the 
whore Reason , which must seem grotesque to any one who 
has not rightly grasped the problem of the non-rational 
element in the idea of God. But certain set phrases, con 
stantly recurring in Luther and very typical of him, are 
specially significant in this connexion, as showing the strong 
feeling he had for the non-rational aspect of the divine nature 
in general. The most interesting passages are not those in 
which he gives this feeling currency in the small change of 
popular edification, that soothes itself with the thought that 
God s ways are too high for us men ; but those in which he 
lays hold of some startling paradox. He can indeed tell in 
quite a homely and popular way how strange a lord our God 
is , and refer this to the fact that God does not esteem or 
count as the world counts, and that He disciplines us by 
the strange ways of His guidance. Such expressions are of 
general currency ; but others and these the more character 
istic strike a loftier note. God is altogether mysteriis suis 
et iudiciis impervestigabilis ( beyond tracking out in His 
mysteries and His judgements ), displays as in Job His 
vera maiestas in metuendis mirabilibus et iudiciis suis incom- 
prehensibilibus ( in His fearful marvels and incomprehensible 
judgements ), is in His essence hidden away from all reason, 
knows no measure, law, or aim, and is verified in the paradox : 
ut ergo fidei locus sit, opus est, ut omnia, quae creduntur, 
abscondantur ( in order, therefore, that there may be a place 


for faith, all the things that are believed must be hidden 
away ). And his concern is not simply to note this as an 
inconceivable paradox, to acknowledge it and bow before it, 
but to recognize that such a paradox is essential to the nature 
of God and even its distinguishing characteristic. 

Si enim talis esset eius iustitia, quae humano captu posset 
iudicari esse iusta, plane non esset divina et nihilo diflerret 
ab huinana iustitia. At cum sit Deus verus et unus, deinde 
totus incomprehensibilis et inaccessibilis humana ratione, par 
est, immo necessarium est, ut et iustitia sua sit incomprehensi 
bilis. * 

Theology gives expression to its perplexed endeavour to 
find a name for the elements of the non-rational and the 
mysterious in the repulsive doctrine that God is * exlex 
(outside the law), that good is good because God wills it, 
instead of that God wills it because it is good, a doctrine that 
results in attributing to God an absolutely fortuitous will, 
which would in fact turn Him into a capricious despot . 
These doctrines are specially prominent in the theology of 
Islam, and this can be immediately understood if the two 
positions we maintain are sound, viz. that such doctrines are 
really perplexed expressions of the non-rational, numinous 
side of the divine nature, and that this is altogether the pre 
ponderant aspect in Islam. And we find them also in Luther 
in the same connexion. In this very fact, however, lies the 
excuse for doctrines in themselves so blasphemous and horrible: 
they are caricatures prompted by a deficient psychology and 
a mistaken choice of expressions, and not by any disregard of 
the absoluteness of moral values. 

(3) From the point of view already considered in detail it 
will be seen that, with such feelings as a basis, it was in 
evitable that the doctrine of predestination would in due 
course make its appearance in Luther s religion. And in his 

For were Ilia juhtice Buch as could be adjudged as just by the human 
understanding it were manifestly not divine, and would differ in nothing 
from human justice. But since God is true and single, yea in Ilia entirety 
incomprehensible and inaccessible to human reason, it is right, nay it 
follows necesiarily, that His justice also is incomprehensible. 


case we do not need, as we did in the case of Paul, to postulate 
the close inner connexion between this doctrine and the 
numinous temper, for in the De Servo Arbitrio it is palpably 
evident. The one explicitly depends upon the other, and the 
inward bond of union between the two is so unmistakable 
that this treatise of Luther s becomes a sort of psychological 
key to related phases of religious experience. 

It is only occasionally that these purely numinous ele 
ments in Luther s religious consciousness are displayed so 
strongly and forcibly as in the treatise De Servo Arbitrio. 
But in his battles with desperatio and with Satan, in his 
constantly recurring religious catastrophes and fits of melan 
choly, in his wrestlings for grace, perpetually renewed, 
which bring him to the verge of mental disorder, in all these 
there are more than merely rational elements at work in his 
soul. Moreover, even when he is speaking solely in rational 
terms of Judgement, Punishment, and the Wrath of God, we 
must, if we are to recapture the real Luther in these expressions, 
hear sounding in them the profoundly non-rational strain of 
religious awe*. For this Wrath of God also has often, 
perhaps has always, something in it of that Fury of Yahweh, 
that opytj of the numen. 

(4) This circumstance suggests a further point. The ex 
pressions unrevealed God and tremenda maiestas mani 
festly repeated only those moments of the numinous 
which we found first in our analysis of it (p. 13), especially 
the tremendum , the daunting aspect of the numinous. 
What of that of fascination in Luther ? Is it missing 
altogether, to be replaced merely by the rational attributes 
of trustworthiness and love and the corresponding element in 
the mind of the worshipper, viz. faith and trustfulness ? No, 
beyond all question it is not. Only, the element of fascination 
is in Luther wholly interwoven with these rational elements 
and comes to utterance with them and in them. This can be 
felt forcibly in the boisterous, almost Dionysiac, blissfulness 
of his experience of God. 

Christians are a blissful people, who can rejoice at heart 


and sing praises, stamp and dance and leap for joy. That is 
well pleasing to God and doth our heart good, when we trust 
in God and find in Him our pride and our joyfulness. Such 
a gift should only kindle a fire and a light in our heart, so 
that we should never cease dancing and leaping for joy. 

Who will extol this enough or utter it forth It is neither 
to be expressed nor conceived. 

If thou feelest it truly in the heart, it will be such a great 
thing to thee that thou wilt rather be silent than speak 
aught of it. 1 

Here should be borne in mind what was remarked earlier 
(p. 48) respecting the interweaving of the non-rational with 
the rational and the consequently deepened import of rational 
expressions. As the awe-inspiring character of the Tran 
scendent is comprised in the God of sternness and punishment 
and justice, so is its bliss-giving character included in the 
God who overbrims with pure goodness . Indeed it is 
involved in the overabounding and mystical tone of Luther s 
actual creed. Here, as elsewhere, there is no mistaking his 
connexion with Mysticism. 2 Though for Luther faith begins 
more and more to take the place of knowledge and Love of 
God (Gottes-Minne) which means a marked qualitative 
alteration of the whole religious temper, as compared with 
that of Mysticism yet, despite the change, it remains obvious 
that there are definite features in c Faith , as the term is used 
by Luther, which justify us in classing it with the mystical 
ways of response to which it is in apparent contrast, and 
clearly distinguish it from the fides taught by the Lutheran 
school with its determinate, well-ordered, unmystical temper. 
Faith for Luther plays the same essential part, mutatis 
mutandis, as knowledge and love for the earlier mystics : 
it is the unique power of the soul, the adhaesio Dei , which 
unites man with God : and unity is the very signature of 
the mystical. So that when Luther says that Faith makes man 
one cake (ein Kuche) with God or Christ, or holds him as a 
ring holds a jewel (sicut annulus gemvuim), he is not speaking 
any more figuratively than when Tauler says the same of 
Love. Faith for Luther, as Love for Tauler and the 
1 Erlungen cd., xi. 194, 2 See Appendix VI. 


mystics generally, is a something that cannot be exhaustively 
comprised in rational concepts, and to designate which figures 
and images are a necessity. To him Faith is the centre of 
the Soul the fundus animae or basis of the soul of the 
mystics in which the union of man with God fulfils itself. 
It is at the same time an independent faculty of knowledge, 
a mystical a priori element in the spirit of man, by which 
he receives and recognizes supra- sensible truth, and in this 
respect identical with the Holy Spirit in the heart (Spiritus 
Sanctus in corde). Faith* is further the mighty creative 
thing in us and the strongest of affects, most closely akin to the 
Greek enthusiasm (tvQovcriafrcrOou). It even takes over all 
the functions which all enthusiasts from Paul onwards have 
ascribed to the Spirit ; for it is faith that transforms us 
inwardly and brings us forth anew . In this regard, different 
as it is in its inner attitude, Faith is very similar to the 
amor mysticus . And in the bliss of the assurance of 
salvation (certitudo salutis) that it arouses, and the intensity 
of Luther s childlike faith , we have in a subdued form 
a recurrence of the childhood feelings of Paul, which go 
beyond mere comfort of the soul, appeasement of conscience, 
or feeling of protectedness. All subsequent mystics from 
Johann Arndt to Spener and Arnold * have always felt 
these aspects of Luther s inner life to be congenial and akin 
to their own, and have carefully collected the relevant passages 
from his writings as a defence against the attacks of the 
rationalized doctrine of the Lutheran school. 

For in opposition to the rationalizations of the schools 
the non-rational elements are maintained and fostered in the 
western Mysticism that came to its later flower both on 
Catholic and Protestant soil. In this, as in Christian Mys 
ticism as a whole from its first stirrings, the elements of 
the non-rational already detailed are easily recognizable, 
most prominently of all those of mystery , fascination , 
and majesty . The element of awe , on the other hand, 

1 [Johann Arndt, 1555-1621; Gottfried Arnold, 1666-1697; Philipp 
Jacob Spener, 1635-1705: the last-named was one of the founders of 
Pietism in Germany. (Trans.)] 


recedes and is subdued ; there has never been in the West 
a Mysticism of Horror, such as we find in certain kinds of 
Indian Mysticism, both Buddhist and Hindu in Bhagavad- 
Ghita, ch. 11 l in some forms of the Shiva and Durga worship, 
and in the horrible form of Tantrism. Yet, though the 
tremendum clement in Christian mysticism is subdued, it 
is not entirely lacking. It remains a living factor in the 
Catigo and the altum tiilentium, in the Abyss , the Night , 
the Deserts of the divine nature, into which the soul 
must descend, in the agony , abandonment , barrenness , 
taedium, in which it must tarry, in the shuddering and shrink 
ing from the loss and deprivation of self-hood and the anni 
hilation of personal identity. Thus Suso writes: 

In this inconceivable mountain of the supra-divine Where 
(the height of the divine Majesty transcending substance ) 
there is a precipitousnessof which all pure spirits are sensible. 
Here the Soul enters a secret namelessness, a marvellous alie 
nation. It is the bottomless abyss no creature can sound 
... the spirit perishos there, to become all-living in the won 
ders of the Godhead. - 

And lie can pray : 

Ah, woe is me, Thy wrathful countenance is so full of 
fury. Thy turning away in anger is so unendurable. Woe 
is me ! And the words of Thy enmity are so tiery, they cleave 
through heart and soul. 3 

This note is familiar also to the later mystics. Thus 
St. John of the Cross says : 

As this clear sight of the divine comes like a violent 
assault upon the soul to subdue it, the soul feels such anguish 
in its weakness that all power and breath leave it together, 
while sense and spirit as though they stood burdened beneath 
a dark unmeasured load sutler such agony and are oppressed 
by Hiich deadly fear that the soul would choose death as 
a mitigation and refreshment. 4 

And again : 

1 The fourth kind of anguish is brought into being in the 
BOU! . . . from the Majesty and Glory of God. 6 

1 Sec Appendix II. 

1 SUBO, German writings, cd. Denifle, pp. 280 ff. Ibid., p. 353. 

4 St. John of the Crow, The Ascent of Mount Carmtl. B Ibid. 


Once more : 

Therefore He destroys, crushes and overwhelms (the soul) 
in such a deep darkness, that it feels as though melted and in 
its misery destroyed by a cruel death of the spirit. Even as 
though it were to feel it had been swallowed by some savage 
beast and buried in the darkness of his belly. l 

But in our Western Mysticism the writer in whom the 
non-rationally dreadful and even the daemonic phase of 
the numinous remains a most living element is Jakob Bohme. 
For all his adoption of its motives, Bohme is in his specula 
tion and theosophy sharply distinguished from the earlier 
Mysticism. He is at one with this (as represented, for 
instance, by Eckhart) in aiming at a construction and 
an understanding of God, and from Him of the world: 
and, like Eckhart, he finds as a starting point for his 
speculation the primal bottom , the supra-comprehensible 
and inexpressible. But this stands to him, not for Being and 
Above-being, but for Stress and Will ; it is not good and above- 
good, but a supra-rational identification of good and evil in 
an Indifferent, in which is to be found the potentiality for 
evil as well as for good, and therewith the possibility of the 
dual nature of deity itself as at once goodness and love on 
the one hand and fury and wrath on the other. J If the 

1 St. John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel. 

2 The ferocity is the origin of Lucifer, in whom the mere potentiality 
of evil is actualized. It might be said that Lucifer is fury , the opyr], 
hypostatized, the mysterium tremendum cut loose from the other 
elements and intensified to mysterium liorrendum. The roots at least 
of this may be found in the Bible and the early Church. The ideas of 
propitiation and ransom are not without reference to Satan as well as to 
the divine Wrath. The rationalism of the myth of the fallen angel 
does not render satisfactorily the horror of Satan and of the depths of 
Satan (Rev. ii. 24) and the mystery of iniquity (2 Thess. ii. 7). It is 
a horror that is in some sort numinous, and we might designate the object 
of it as the negatively numinous. This also holds good of other religions 
than that of the Bible. In all religions the devilish plays its part and 
has its place as that which, opposed to the divine, has yet something in 
common with it. As such it should be the subject of a special inquiry, 
which must be an analysis of fundamental feelings, and something very 
different from a mere record of the evolution of the idea of the devil . 


inventions and comparisons, with whose aid Bb hme com 
poses a sort of chemico-physical romance of God, strike us 
as extremely qu2er and bizarre, the strange intuitions of the 
religious feeling underlying them are yet highly significant. 
They are intuitions of the numinous, and are akin to those 
of Luther. With Bb hme, as with Luther, the non-rational 
energy and majesty of God and his awcfulness appear con 
ceptualized and symbolized as Will . And with Bohme, as 
with Luther, this is conceived as fundamentally independent 
of mond elevation or righteousness, and as indifferent toward 
good or evil action. It is rather a ferocity , a fiery wrath 
about something unknown ; or, better still, not about anything 
at all, but Wrath on its own account and without reference 
to any object ; an aspect of character which would be quite 
meaningless if taken literally in the sense of a real con 
ceivable and apprehensible anger. Who is not directly con 
scious that it is simply the non-rational element of awefulness , 
the tremendwm, for which Wrath , Fire , Fury , are excellent 
ideograms? 1 If such an ideogram is taken as an adequate 
concept, the result is anthropomorphism, such as mythology 
illustrates, and the writings of Lactantius (v. p. 99). And if 
speculation follows, based upon such concepts, the result is 
the pseudo-science of theosophy. For the characteristic mark 
of all theosophy is just this: having confounded analogical 
and figurative ways of expressing feeling with rational con 
cepts, it then systematizes them, and out of them spins, like 
a monstrous web, a * Science of God , which is and remains 
something monstrous, whether it employs the doctrinal terms 
of scholasticism, as Eckhart did, or the alchemical substances 
and mixtures of Paracelsus, as Bohme did, or the cate 
gories of an animistic logic, as Hegel did, or the elaborate 

1 Btfhme s disciple, Johann Pordage, has some feeling of this when 
he writes: So hope I then, that you will Dot be angered with mo, if 
you find that I impute to God acerbity and bitterness, dread, wrath, 
fire, . . . and the like. For even Jakob Bflhme found no other words in 
which to express his exalted sfnsation (Empfindung) of God. You must 
then take all those forms of ppeech in a high divine sense, far removed 
from all imperfection (Divine and True Hfetaphysic, i. 166). 


diction of Indian religion, as Mrs. Besant does. For the 
history of religion it is not on account of his theosophy 
that Bohme is interesting, but because in him behind the 
theosophy the consciousness of the numinous was astir and 
alive as an element of genuine value : so that herein Bohme 
was an heir of Luther, preserving what in Luther s own school 
came to be overlooked and disregarded. 

For the Lutheran school has itself not done justice to the 
numinous side of the Christian idea of God. By the exclusively 
moral interpretation it gave to the terms, it distorted the 
meaning of holiness and the wrath of God , and already 
from the time of Johann Gerhardt and onwards Lutheranism 
was returning to the doctrine of divine aTrdQeia or passion- 
lessness. More and more it deprived the forms of worship 
of the genuinely contemplative and specifically devotional 
elements in them. The conceptual and doctrinal the ideal 
of orthodoxy began to preponderate over the inexpressible, 
whose only life is in the conscious mental attitude of the 
devout soul. The Church became a school, and her communi 
cations, in truth, found a more and more contracted access to 
the mind, as Tyrrell has put it somewhere, through the 
narrow clefts (?) of the understanding . 

Schleiermacher was the first to attempt to overcome this 
rationalism, most boldly and uncompromisingly in the rhapsody 
of his Discourses, with less heat and more subdued tone in 
his Glaubenslehre and his theory of the feeling of absolute 
dependence , which in point of fact give a representation as 
has been pointed out already of the first stirring of the 
feeling of the numinous. It will be a task for contemporary 
Christian teaching to follow in his traces and again to deepen 
the rational meaning of the Christian conception of God by 
permeating it with its non-rational elements. 


THIS permeation of the rational with the non-rational is 
to lead, then, to the deepening of our rational conception of 
God ; it must not be the means of blurring or diminishing 
it. For if (as suggested at the close of the last chapter) 
the disregard of the numinous elements tends to impoverish 
religion, it is no less true that holiness , sanctity , as Chris 
tianity intends the words, cannot dispense with the rational, 
and especially the clear ethical elements of meaning which Pro 
testantism more particularly emphasizes in the idea of God. 
To get the full meaning of the word holy as we find it used 
in the New Testament (and religious usage has established it 
in the New Testament sense to the exclusion of others), we 
must no longer understand by the holy or sacred the 
merely numinous in general, nor even the numinous at its 
own highest development ; we must always understand by 
it the numinous completely permeated and saturated with 
elements signifying rationality, purpose, personality, morality. 
It is in this combined meaning that we retain and apply the 
term holy in our subsequent chapters. But that the course 
of the historical development may be clearly understood, we 
venture first to recapitulate our view upon this matter as 
explicitly as possible. 

That which the primitive religious consciousness first 
apprehends in the form of daemonic dread , and which, as 
it further unfolds, becomes more elevated and ennobled, is 
in origin not something rational or moral, but something 
distinct, non-rational, an object to which the mind responds 
in a unique way with the special feeling-reflexes that have 
been described. And this element or moment passes in 
itself through a process of development of its own, quite apart 



from the other process which begins at an early stage 
by which it is rationalized and moralized , i. e. filled with 
rational and ethical meaning. Taking this non-rational pro 
cess of development first, we have seen how the daemonic 
dread , after itself passing through various gradations, rises to 
the level of fear of the gods , and thence to fear of God . 
The Saifioviov or daemonic power becomes the 6dov or divine 
power : * dread becomes worship ; out of a confusion of inchoate 
emotions and bewildered palpitations of feeling grows c religio , 
and out of shudder a holy awe. The feelings of dependence 
upon and beatitude in the numen, from being relative, become 
absolute. The false analogies and fortuitous associations are 
gradually dispelled or frankly rejected. The numen becomes 
God and Deity. It is then to God and Deity, as numen 
rendered absolute, that the attribute denoted by the terms 
qddosh, sanctus, ayioy, holy, pertains, in the first and directest 
sense of the words. It is the culmination of a development 
which works itself out purely in the sphere of the non- 
rational. This development constitutes the first central fact of 
religious study, and it is the task of religious history and 
psychology to trace its course. 

Next, secondary and subsidiary to this, is the task of tracing 
the course of the process of rationalization and moralization 
on the basis of the numinous consciousness. It nearly, if not 
quite, synchronizes and keeps pace with the stages of the 
purely numinous development, and, like that, it can be traced 
in its different gradations in the most widely different regions 
of religious history. Almost everywhere we find the numinous 
attracting and appropriating meanings derived from social 
and individual ideals of obligation, justice, and goodness. 
These become the will of the numen, and the numen their 
guardian, ordainer, and author. More and more these ideas 
come to enter into the very essence of the numen and charge the 
term with ethical content. Holy becomes good , and good 
from that very fact in turn becomes holy , sacrosanct ; until 
there results a thenceforth indissoluble synthesis of the two 
elements, and the final outcome is thus the fuller, more com 
plex sense of holy , in which it is at once good and sacrosanct. 


The greatest distinction of the religion of ancient Israel, at 
least from Amos onwards, is precisely the intimate coalescence 
of both elements. No God is like the God of Israel : for He is 
the absolutely Holy One (= perfectly good). And, on the other 
hand, no law is like Yahweh s Law, for it is not merely good, 
but also at the same time holy (= sacrosanct). 

And this process of rationalization and moralization of the 
numinous, as it grows ever more clear and more potent, is in 
fact the most essential part of what we call the History of 
Salvation and prize as the ever-growing self-revelation of the 
divine. But at the same time it should be clear to us that this 
process of the moralization of the idea of God , often enough 
represented to us as a principal problem, setting the main line for 
inquiry into the history of religion, is in no wise a suppression 
of the numinous or its supersession by something else which 
would result not in a God, but a God substitute but rather 
the completion and charging of it with a new content. That 
is to say, the moralization process assumes the numinous and 
is only completed upon this as basis. 



IT follows from what has been said that the holy in 
the fullest sense of the word is a combined, complex category, 
the combining elements being its rational and non-rational 
components. But in both and the assertion must be strictly 
maintained against all Sensationalism and Naturalism it 
is a purely a priori category. 

The rational ideas of Absoluteness, Completion, Necessity, and 
Substantiality, and no less so those of the good as an objective 
value, objectively binding and valid, are not to be evolved from 
any sort of sense-perception. And the notions of epigenesis , 
heterogony , or whatever other expression we may choose to 
denote our compromise and perplexity, only serve to conceal the 
problem, the tendency to take refuge in a Greek terminology 
being here, as so often, nothing but an avowal of one s own 
insufficiency. Rather, seeking to account for the ideas in 
question, we are referred away from all sense-experience back 
to an original and underivable capacity of the mind implanted 
in the pure reason independently of all perception. 

But in the case of the non-rational elements of our category 
of the Holy we are referred back to something still deeper than 
the pure reason , at least as this is usually understood, namely 
to that which Mysticism has rightly named the fundus animae , 
the bottom or f ground of the soul (Seelengrund). The ideas 
of the numinous and the feelings that correspond to them are, 
quite as much as the rational ideas and feelings, absolutely 
pure , and the criteria which Kant suggests for the pure 
concept and the pure feeling of respect are most precisely 
applicable to them. In the famous opening words of the 
1 Critique of Pure Reason he says : 

That all our knowledge begins with experience there can 
be no doubt. For how is it possible that the faculty of cogni 
tion should be awakened into exercise otherwise than by means 


of objects which affect our senses ? . . . But, though all our know 
ledge begins with experience, it by no means follows that all 
arises out of experience. 

And, referring to empirical knowledge, he distinguishes that 
part which we receive through impressions and that which our 
own faculty of cognition supplies from itself, sense-impressions 
giving merely the occasion. 

The numinous is of the latter kind. It issues from the 
deepest foundation of cognitive apprehension that the soul 
possesses, and, though it of course comes into being in and 
amid the sensory data and empirical material of the natural 
world and cannot anticipate or dispense with those, yet it does 
not arise out of them, but only by their means. They are the 
incitement, the stimulus, and the occasion for the numinous 
experience to become astir, and, in so doing, to begin at first 
with a naive immediacy of reaction to be interfused and 
interwoven with the present world of sensuous experience, 
until, becoming gradually purer, it disengages itself from this 
and takes its stand in absolute contrast to it. The proof that 
in the numinous we have to deal with purely a priori cogni 
tive elements is to be reached by introspection and a critical 
examination of reason such as Kant instituted. We find, that 
is, involved in the numinous experience, beliefs and feelings 
qualitatively different from anything that natural sense- 
perception is capable of giving us. They are themselves not 
perceptions at all, but peculiar interpretations and valuations, 
at first of perceptual data, and then at a higher level of 
posited objects and entities, which themselves no longer belong 
to the perceptual world, but are thought of as supplementing 
and transcending it. And as they are not themselves sense- 
perceptions, RO neither are they any sort of transmutation of 
Bense-perceptions. The only transmutation possible in respect 
to sense-perception is the transformation of the intuitively 
given concrete percept, of whatever sort, into the corresponding 
concept ; there is never any question of the transformation of 
o/t class of percepts into a class of entities qualitatively oilier. 
The facts of the numinous consciousness point therefore as 
likewise do alao the pure concepts of the understanding of 


Kant and the ideas and value-judgements of ethics or aesthetics 
to a hidden substantive source, from which the religious ideas 
and feelings are formed, which lies in the mind independently 
of sense-experience ; a pure reason in the profoundest sense, 
which, because of the surpassingness of its content, must be 
distinguished from both the pure theoretical and the pure 
practical reason of Kant, as something yet higher or deeper 
than they. 

The justification of the evolutionist theory of to-day stands 
or falls with its claim to explain the phenomenon of religion. 
That is in truth the real task of the psychology of religion. 
But in order to explain we must have the data from which an 
explanation may be forthcoming ; out of nothing nothing can be 
explained. Nature can only be explained by an investigation 
into the ultimate fundamental forces of nature and their laws : 
it is meaningless to propose to go further and explain these 
laws themselves, for in terms of what are they to be explained ? 
But in the domain of spirit the corresponding principle from 
which an explanation is derived is just the spirit itself, the 
reasonable spirit of man, with its predispositions, capacities, 
and its own inherent laws. This has to be presupposed : it can 
not itself be explained. None can say how mind or spirit is 
made though this is in effect just what the theory of Epi- 
genesis is fain to attempt. The history of humanity begins 
with man, and we have to presuppose man, to take him for 
granted as he is, in order that from him we may understand 
his history. That is, we must presuppose man as a being 
analogous to ourselves in natural propensities and capacities. 
It is a hopeless business to seek to lower ourselves into the 
mental life of a pithecanthropus erectus-, and, even if it 
were not, we should still need to start from man as he is, since 
we can only interpret the psychical and emotional life of animals 
regressively by clumsy analogies drawn from the developed 
human mind. To try, on the other hand, to understand and 
deduce the human from the sub-human or brute mind is 
to try to fit the lock to the key instead of vice versa ; it is to 
seek to illuminate light by darkness. In the first appearance 
of conscious life on dead unconscious matter we have a simple, 


irreducible, inexplicable datum. But that which here appears 
is already a manifold of qualities, and we can only interpret 
it as a seed of potentiality, out of which issue continually 
maturer powers and capacities, as the organization of the body 
increases in stability and complexity. And the only way we 
can throw any light upon the whole region of sub-human 
psychical life is by interpreting it once again as a sort of pre 
disposition (Anlage) at a second remove, i.e. a predisposition 
to form the predispositions or faculties of the actual developed 
mind, and standing in relation to this as an embryo to the 
full-grown organism. But we are not completely in the dark 
as to the meaning of this word predisposition . For in 
our own awakening and growth to mental and spiritual 
maturity we trace in ourselves in some sort the evolution 
by which the seed develops into the tree the very opposite of 
transformation and epigenesis by successive addition. 1 

We call the source of growth a hidden predisposition of 
the human spirit, which awakens when aroused by divers 
excitations. That there are predispositions of this sort 
in individuals no one can deny who has given serious study 
to the history of religion. They are seen as propensities, 
predestining the individual to religion, and they may grow 
spontaneously to quasi-instinctive presentiments, uneasy seek 
ing and groping, yearning and longing, and become a religious 
imjfuksioii, that only finds peace when it has become clear to 
itself and attained its goal. From them arise the states of 

1 The physical analogue to these spiritual or mental relationships is 
the relation of potential to kinetic energy. The assumption of such a rela 
tion in the world of mind (i.e. a relation between potential and kinetic 
mind) is, of course, only to be expected from one who is prepared to accept 
as the final cause of all mind in the world as a whole the absolute mind 
as pure actuality whose ellampatio or effulgence (in Leibniz s phrase) 
all other mind is. For all that is potential presupposes an actual aa the 
ground of its possibility, a.s Aristotle long ago showed. But indeed how 
can we afford to reject such a pure actuality ? It is an inconsequent 
proceeding to postulate actuality, as is done, for a starting point for the 
pbynical world, a a system of stored-up energy, whose transference to 
kint-tic energy constitutes the rush of worlds and wheel of systems , and 
yet to reject the analogous aisumption in the world of niind and spirit. 


mind of prevenient grace , described in masterly fashion by 
Suso : 

Loving, tender Lord ! My mind has from the days of my 
childhood sought something with an earnest thirst of longing, 
Lord, and what that is have I not yet perfectly apprehended. 
Lord, I have now for many a year been in hot pursuit of it, 
and never yet have I been able to succeed, for I know not 
aright what it is. And yet it is something that draws my 
heart and my soul after it, and without which I can never 
attain to full repose. Lord, I was fain in the earliest days of 
my childhood to seek it among created things, as I saw others 
before me do. And the more I sought, the less I found it ; and 
the nearer I went, the further I wandered from it. ... Now my 
heart rages for it, for fain would I possess it. ... Woe is me ! 
. . . What is this, or how is it fashioned, that plays within me 
in such hidden wise ? x 

These are manifestations of a predisposition becoming a 
search and a driving impulsion. But here, if nowhere else, 
the * fundamental biogenetic law really does hold good, which 
uses the stages and phases in the growth of the individual 
to throw light upon the corresponding stages in the growth of 
his species. The predisposition which the human reason 
brought with it when the species Man entered history became 
long ago, not merely for individuals but for the species as 
a whole, a religious impulsion, to which incitements from 
without and pressure from within the mind both contributed. 
It begins in undirected, groping emotion, a seeking and shaping 
of representations, and goes on, by a continual onward striving, 
to generate ideas, till its nature is self-illumined and made 
clear by an explication of the obscure a priori foundation 
of thought itself, out of which it originated. 2 And this emotion, 
this searching, this generation and explication of ideas, gives 
the warp of the fabric of religious evolution, whose woof 
we are to discuss later. 3 

1 Worts, ed. Denifle, p. 311. 

2 The reader may compare what Kant says in his Lectures on Psychology 
(Leipsic ed., 1889, p. 11) of the treasure buried in the field of obscure 
ideas, constituting the deep abyss of human knowledge, which we cannot 
sound. This deep abyss is just the fundus animae that is aroused 
in Suso. s Of. pp. 180, 181. 


ONLY upon the basis of the foregoing assumptions is it 
possible to understand the historical origin and further develop 
ment of religion. It must be admitted that when religious 
evolution first begins sundry curious phenomena confront 
us, preliminary to religion proper and deeply atfecting its 
subsequent course. Such are the notions of clean and 
unclean , belief in and worship of the dead, belief in and 
worship of souls or spirits , magic, fairy tale, and myth, 
homage to natural objects, whether frightful or extraordinary, 
noxious or advantageous, the strange idea of power (orenda 
or mana), fetishism and totemism, worship of animal and 
plant, daemonisin and polydaemonism. Different as these 
things are, they are all haunted by a common and that 
a numinous element, which is easily identifiable. They did 
not, perhaps, take their origin out of this common numinous 
element directly ; they may have all exhibited a preliminary 
stage at which they were merely * natural products of the 
na ive, rudimentary fancies of primitive times. 1 ut these 
things acquire a strand of a quite special kind, which alone 
gives them their character as forming the vestibule of religion, 
brings them first to clear and explicit form, and furnishes 
them with the prodigious power over the minds of men which 
history universally proves them to possess. Let us attempt to 
grasp this peculiar strand, common to all these modes of thought 
and practice which stand upon the threshold of religion. 

1. We will begin with magic. There has been at all times, 
and there still is to-day, a natural magic, that is to nay, 
modes of behaviour exhibiting some simple analogy and carried 
out quite unreilectively and without any basis in theory, whose 


object is to influence and regulate an event in accordance with 
the wishes of the agent. It may be noticed on any skittle- 
alley or bowling-green. A bowler aims and plays his bowl, 
wishing it to roll straight and hit the jack. He watches eagerly 
as it rolls, nodding his head, his body bent sideways, stands 
balancing on one leg, jerks over violently to the other side as 
the critical point is reached, makes as though to push the ball 
on with hand or foot, gives a last jerk and the end is reached. 
Its hazards past, the ball rolls safely into position. What was 
the man doing in this case ? He was not simply imitating the 
course of the ball ; he meant to prescribe and determine it, but 
this obviously without any reflection on his queer behaviour, 
without the belief of primitive man in universal animism , i. e. 
in the animatedness of everything, in this instance of the ball, 
and without a belief in some sympathetic rapport between his 
own soul power and the soul of the ball. His action was 
merely naively analogical, for the attainment of a definite 
wish. The proceedings of rain-makers were often, perhaps 
at first were always, just the same sort of thing ; and so were 
the naive charms purporting to influence the course of sun and 
moon, clouds and winds. But clearly, so long as they are not 
more than this, these are not by any means magic in the proper 
sense. There must be in addition a new ingredient, unique 
in quality, the element that is usually called supernatural 
efficacy . But this expression is a misnomer : supernatural 
has nothing to do with the case ; it is much too imposing an 
expression, and ascribes far too much to the naive mind. The 
conception of Nature as a single connected system of events 
united by laws is the final and most difficult outcome of 
abstraction ; and this conception of nature, or at least some 
hint of it, must have been arrived at before there could be any 
place for its negation, the supernatural . Again, nothing is 
explained, as Wundt would have it, by spirit-power or * soul- 
power . For, first, it is to-day universally recognized that 
magic is independent of a belief in spirits or souls, and probably 
existed before it. And, second, the point at issue is not by 
means of what class of powers the magical effect was produced 
whether soul-powers or others but by means of what 


quality or character in the powers. And this quality can 
be indicated solely through the daemonic , a character ascribed 
to certain definite operations of force, be they strong or weak, 
extraordinary or quite trivial, the work of a soul or a non- 
soul . The quality can be only suggested through that unique 
element of feeling, the feeling of uncanniness , of which we 
have already spoken, whose positive content cannot be defined 
conceptually, and can only be indicated by that mental response 
to it which we called shuddering . 


2. The same is true of the worship of the dead. It does not 
arise out of any theory of animism, according to which the 
primitive man thinks of inanimate objects, and so also of the 
dead, as animate and operative. Even in itself this entire 
theory of an ostensible attribution of soul or the principle of 
animation to everything is a mere fabrication of the study, 
llow much more when it is clumsily spatchcocked and w r elded 
together with * belief in spirits or souls , which is something 
quite different ! The dead man, in point of fact, exercises 
a spell upon the mind only when, and only because, he is felt as 
a thing of horror and shudder . But alike to the naive mind 
of the savage and to the blase mind of modern civilized man 


this feeling comes about w r ith such an immediate compelling 
force that we usually accept it as something immediately self- 
evident, failing altogether to remark that even the estimating 
something as horrible or grisly shows the emergence of 
a qualitatively separate content of feeling which the mere 
fact of death does not explain. Feeling-reactions to the dead, 
if prompted naturally , are pretty obviously only of two 
kinds : on the one hand, the experient feels disgust at the 
corpse s putrefaction, stench, revoltingness : on the other, 
he feels his own will to life disturbed and checked, the fear of 
death and the startled fright that directly follows on the sight 
of a corpse, especially if it be that of a member of one s own 
species. Both these sorts of feeling-response, viz. disgust and 
startled fright, are already found manifested among animals. 
I observed this in a very pronounced degree on one occasion, 
when, upon a lonely ride, we suddenly came upon the body 
of a dead horse, and Diana, my excellent mount, on 


nizing her dead fellow, gave every indication of the most 
natural fright and disgust. But these two moments of 
feeling do not by any means afford in themselves the materials 
for the art of making shudder (in the words of the old folk 
tale). It is something new and demands to be learnt as the 
folk-tale rightly declares : that is, this is a feeling that is not 
simply present with the other natural and normal mental 
functions, disgust, or fright, and cannot be got from these by 
analysis. It is a dread (or awe), qualitatively sui generis ; 
and even with regard to this rudimentary stage represented by 
the primitive worship of the dead we cannot admit that we 
have to do merely with a universal feeling, that has simply to 
be presupposed at the outset as a regular factor of folk psycho 
logy, a collectively engendered feeling that explains itself. On 
the contrary, it cannot be disputed that here too there have 
been persons endowed with special propensities in this direction, 
who possessed such feelings actually, and then, by giving 
expression to them, aroused them in others. Even the awe 
of the dead and from it the worship of the dead have 
been, as it were, instituted and have had founders . 

3. We consider next ideas of souls and spirits . It 
would be possible to show, did not the subject lead us too far 
afield, that these were not conceived by the fanciful processes 
of which the animists tell us, but had a far simpler origin. 
But again the important point is not the origin of spirits in 
their ideational aspect, but the qualitative element of feeling 
relative to them. And this does not consist in the fact that 
1 spirits or souls are thinner or less easily visible than the 
body, or quite invisible, or fashioned like air : often all this 
is true of them ; no less often none of it is ; most frequently 
of all it is both true and false. The essence of the soul lies 
not in the imaginative or conceptual expression of it, but 
first and foremost in the fact that it is a spectre , that it 
arouses dread or awe , as described above. But again, 
a spectre is not to be explained from natural feelings, and 
these are equally unable to explain the further development 
by which these somethings (and this is the only core ot 
conceptual meaning that can really be given them), at first 


always very eagerly shunned, later on become beings honoured 
in a positive way and loved, capable of rising into heroes, 
pitris, daemons, holy or sacred ones, and gods. 

4. We turn to the idea of power , the mana of the Pacific 
Islands and the orenda of the North American Indians. It 
can have its antecedents in very natural phenomena. To 
notice power in plants, stones, and natural objects in general 
and to appropriate it by gaining possession of them ; to eat the 
heart or liver of an animal or a man in order to make his 
power and strength one s own this is not religion but science. 
Our science of medicine follows a similar prescription. If the 
power of a calf s glands is good for goitre and imbecility, 
we do not know what virtue we may not hope to find in frogs 
brains or Jews livers. All depends here upon observation, 
and our science of medicine in this respect only differs from 
that of the medicine-man in being more exact and in possess 
ing experimental methods. Pow r er does not take its place 
in the ante-chamber of religion, is not appropriated by 
religion in communion rites and sacraments (as we call 
them), until it too has come to include the idea of spell 
and malc . 


5. Volcanoes, mountain peaks, moon, sun, and clouds are 
regarded by primitive man as being alive or animate, not in 
consequence of a naV ve theory of the omnipresence of spirit 
or soul Panthelism , so called but as a result of precisely 
the same criterion that we ourselves apply when we recognize 
anything to be alive or animate, apart from the one live thing 
we can observe directly, our self ; that is to say, both we and 
the primitive credit an object with life if, and in so far as, we 
think we remark in it living efficacy and agency; and whether 
we do so rightly or wrongly is again simply a matter of more 
or less exact observation. But while from this criterion the 
natural objects mentioned above, and of course others, may be 
invested with life by the naive observer, this does not in itself 
lead to myth or religion. Purely as animate or living beings, 
these entities are far from being yet divine or gods ; nay, 
they do not even become so when the man turns to them with 
desire and petition ; for petition is something less than prayer 


and trust need not have a religious character. The objects in 
question only become divine objects of worship when the 
category of the numinous is applied to them, and that does not 
come about until, first, an attempt is made to influence them 
by numinous means, viz. by magic ; and, second, their special 
efficacy or way of working is at the same time accepted as 
something numinous, viz. something magical. 

6. As regards fairy -stories, these presuppose the natural 
impulse to fantasy, narrative, and entertainment, and its 
products. But the fairy-story proper only comes into being 
with the element of the wonderful , with miracle and miracu 
lous events and consequences, i. e. by means of an infusion 
of the numinous. And the same holds good in an increased 
degree of myth. 

7. All the factors and elements named so far in this chapter 
are but, as it were, the vestibule at the threshold of the real 
religious feeling, an earliest stirring of the numinous conscious 
ness, which comes upon the scene blended with associated feel 
ings in conformity to principles of analogy which it would be 
easy to specify for each several case. Only with the rise of the 
daemon do we have a really separate beginning. The most 
authentic form of the daemon may be seen in those strange 
deities of ancient Arabia, which are properly nothing but 
wandering demonstrative pronouns, neither * given shape and 
feature by means of myth , for there is in the main no mytho 
logy attached to them at all, nor evolved out of nature- 
deities, nor grown out of souls or spirits , but none the 
less felt as deities of mighty efficacy, who are the objects of 
very living veneration. They are pure products of the religious 
consciousness itself. And in their case it is very evident that 
they do not arise as a collective product of crowd-imagination, 
and that they do not therefore have their origin in group- or 
folk- psychology, but were the intuitions of persons of innate 
prophetic powers. For there is always the Kahin (the primi 
tive form of the prophet ) belonging to these numina , and 
he alone experiences a numen or divine-daemonic power at 
first hand. Only where and when it has been revealed 
through such a one do the forms of worship and a common 


cult arise. To each nuraen is assigned a Seer and there is none 
without one. 

8. The notions clean and unclean , pure and impure , 
are already found in a purely natural sense, prior to their 
religious application. The unclean is the loathsome, that which 
stirs strong feelings of natural disgust. And it is just during 
the more primitive stages of human development that the 
emotion of disgust exercises such special power. Probably these 
emotional reactions are a part of our natural self-protective 
endowment, instinctive safeguards for many important vital 
functions. The effect of civilization is to refine these emotions 
of disgust and loathing by diverting them to different objects, 
so that things which were loathsome to the savage cease to be 
so and things which were not become so. This refinement 
spells at the same time a weakening in the intensity of the 
emotion ; we do not now loathe and feel disgust with the 
unbridled violence and strength of the savage. In this respect 
we can notice even to-day a plain distinction between our more 
primitive rural and our more refined urban population : we 
townsmen feel disgust at much that is harmless to the country 
man, but where the latter does feel it he is affected by the 
emotion more radically than we are ; it is a pro founder reaction 
in him. 

We have so far been concerned with the ordinary feeling of 
disgust. Bofcween this and the feeling of the horrible there 
is a very close analogy ; and from this it becomes apparent, 
in accordance with the law of reciprocal attraction between 
analogous feelings and emotions, how the natural unclean or 
impure is bound to pass over into, and develop in, the sphere 
of the numinous. Once, in fact, we have in our hand the key 
of the problem the analogy and the law just mentioned we 
can reconstruct a priori the actual genetic process involved, 
by which the one emotion prompts the other. We indeed have 
ourselves a direct experience of the same thing to-day in our 
emotional reaction to the sight of flowing blood, in which it 
would be hard to say whether the element of disgust or 
horror is the stronger. 

Later, then, when the more maturely developed elements of 


awe came upon the scene and went to shape the more 
elevated ideas of the daemonic and the divine, sacer and 
sanctus, things could become unclean or impure in the 
numinous sense without any substratum of natural impurity 
to serve as point of departure. And we can learn something 
of the relation of feeling-analogy involved from the fact that 
in the reverse direction the feeling of the numinously impure 
calls up easily by association the natural emotion of disgust 
(i.e. the feeling of the naturally impure), so that things 
become disgustful or loathsome which intrinsically were not 
objects of disgust at all, but of numinous horror. In fact such 
secondary and derived feelings of disgust can maintain them 
selves independently long after the original numinous awe 
which they once evoked has died away. Certain social feelings 
of loathing, such as those of caste, can be explained in this 
way : they had once a purely daemonic root, but long after 
that has died out they still survive in their secondary, acquired 
character as feelings of disgust. 

9. If the examples numbered 1 to 8 may be termed pre- 
religion , this is not in the sense that religion and the possi 
bility of religion are explicable by their means : rather, they 
are themselves only made possible and can only be explained 
from a religious basic element, viz. the feeling of the numinous. 
This is a primal element of our psychical nature that needs 
to be grasped purely in its uniqueness and cannot itself be 
explained from anything else. Like all other primal psychical 
elements, it emerges in due course in the developing life of 
human mind and spirit and is thenceforward simply present. 
Of course it can only emerge if and when certain conditions 
are fulfilled, conditions involving a proper development of the 
bodily organs and the other powers of mental and emotional 
life in general, a due growth in suggestibility and spontaneity 
and responsiveness to external impressions and internal ex 
periences. But such conditions are no more than conditions ; 
they are not its causes or constituent elements. To recognize 
this is not to relegate the whole matter to the domain of mystery 
and supernaturalism, but simply to maintain that the same thing 
holds good of this which holds good of all other primal ele- 


ments of our mental or spiritual life. Pleasure or pain, love or 
hate, all faculties of sense-perception, such as susceptibility to 
light and sound, consciousness of space and time, and sub 
sequently all higher capacities of the mind, all duly emerge, 
sooner or later, in the course of development. That they do 
BO in conformity to laws and under definite conditions is 
indisputable, but not the less is each a new, original, underiv- 
able fact, and they are only to be explained on the assumption 
of a rich potentiality of spirit or mind, which underlies the 
course of their development and realizes itself more and more 
abundantly in them in proportion as the conditions of organic 
and cerebral evolution are more fully realized. And what is 
true of all these other elements of our mental life is also true 
of the i eelinir o f the numinous. 


10. The purest case, however, of the spontaneous stirring of 
numinous emotion would seem to be that mentioned in No. 7 
(the feeling of daemons), which is of quite special signifi 
cance for the evolution of religion. This is because here the 
1 religious emotion does not from the first get diverted (follow 
ing the stimulation of emotional associations) to earthly 
things, wrongly taken as numinous : but either it remains 
a pure fueling, as in panic terror (in the literal sense of the 
word), or itself invents, or, better, discovers, the numinous 
object by rendering explicit the obscure germinal ideas latent 
in itself. Even this latter case is not altogether beyond the 
reach of introspective analysis, which, moreover, can throw some 
light upon the transition from mere feeling to its explication 
and to the positing of the numinous object. At least there is 
none of us who has any living capacity for emotion but must 
have known at some time or at some place what it is to feel 
really * uncanny , to have a feeling of eerieness . And more 
exact psychological analysis will notice the following points 
in such a state of mind. First, there is the point of which we 
have already spoken, its separate and underivable, irreducible, 
qualitative character. Second, there is the very curious circum 
stance that the external features occasioning this state of 
mind are often quite slight, indeed so scanty that hardly any 
account can be given of them, so disproportionate are they to 



the strength of the emotional impression itself. Indeed the 
clutching force and violence of the emotion so far exceeds any 
impressiveness contributed by the circumstances of time and 
place that one can often scarcely speak of an impression at 
all, but at most of an encounter, serving as cue or occasion for 
the felt experience. This experience of eerie shuddering and 
awe breaks out rather from depths of the soul which the circum 
stantial, external impression cannot sound, and the force with 
which it breaks out is so disproportionate to the mere external 
stimulation that the eruption may be termed, if not entirely, 
at least very nearly, spontaneous. And with this we are 
brought to the third point which psychological analysis of the 
uncanny experience brings to view ; meanings are aroused 
and awakened in it of a unique and special content, though 
altogether obscure, latent, and germinal, which are the real 
ground for the emotion of awe. For, if such meanings are not 
there at the start in some form or other, the mental and 
emotional disturbance could never take place. In the fourth 
place, the mental state we are discussing may, on the one hand, 
remain pure feeling , pursue its course and pass away with 
out its obscure thought-content being rendered explicit. If in 
this implicit form it is summed up in a phrase, this will be 
merely some such exclamation as : How uncanny ! or * How 
eerie this place is ! On the other hand, the implicit meaning 
may be rendered explicit. It is already a beginning of this 
explicative process though still in merely negative terms 
when a man says : It is not quite right here ; It is 
uncanny. The English This place is haunted* shows a 
transition to a positive form of expression. Here we have the 
obscure basis of meaning and idea rising into greater clarity 
and beginning to make itself explicit as the notion, however 
vague and fleeting, of a transcendent Something, a real opera 
tive entity of a numinous kind, which later, as the development 
proceeds, assumes concrete form as a c numen loci , a daemon, 
an El , a Baal, or the like. 

In Genesis xxviii. 17 Jacob says : How dreadful is this 
place ! This is none other than the house of Elohim. This 
verse is very instructive for the psychology of religion ; it 


exemplifies the point that has just been made. The first 
sentence gives plainly the mental impression itself in all its 
immediacy, before reflection has permeated it, and before the 
meaning-content of the feeling itself has become clear or 
explicit. It connotes solely the primal numinous awe, which 
has been undoubtedly sufficient in itself in many cases to mark 
out holy or sacred places, and make of them .spots of aweful 
veneration, centres of a cult admitting a certain development. 
There is no need, that is, for the experient to pass on to resolve 
his mere impression of the eerie and aweful into the idea of 
a numen , a divine power, dwelling in the aweful place, 
still less need the numen become a nomen, a named power, 
or the nomen become something more than a mere pro 
noun. Worship is possible without this farther explicative 
process. But Jacob s second statement gives this process of 
explication and interpretation ; it is no longer simply an 
expression of the actual experience. 

The German expression Es spukt hier (literally, it haunts 
here) is also instructive. It has properly no true subject, or at 
least it makes no assertion as to what the es, the it , is which 
haunts ; in itself it contains no suggestion of the concrete 
representations of ghost , phantom , spectre , or spirit 
common to our popular mythology. Rather is the statement 
simply the pure expression of the emotion of eerieness or 
uncanniness itself, when just on the point of detaching and 
disengaging from itself a first vaguely intimated idea of a 
numinous something, an entity from beyond the borders of 
natural experience. It is to be regretted that the German 
language possesses no general word less vulgar than spuken , 
no word which, instead of pointing us aside, as this word does, 
to the domain of superstition and the impure offshoots of the 
numinous consciousness, should retain its fundamental meaning 
in an unperverted form. 1 But even so we can feel by an effort of 

1 The expression es geistet hier may perve, but it haa an artificial 
sound. The English to haunt is a nobler expression than the German 
1 spuken . We might legitimately translate Huliakkuk ii. 20 : Yahweh 
haunts His holy Temple. Such a haunting is frequently the meaning 
of the Hebrew ihukan. And we get a fuller and truer rendering of 

K 2 


imaginative introjection how akin the debased feeling of haunt 
ing, given by this word, is to those primary numinous experi 
ences by which long ago seers had experience of aweful , holy , 
numen-possessed places, discovering thereby the starting-points 
for local cults and the birth-places of the El worshipped 
there. The echo of such primaeval experiences lingers in 
Genesis xxviii. 17 (Jacob at Bethel) and Exodus iii (the burn 
ing bush). The places here set apart by Moses and Jacob are 
genuine haunted places , at which es spukt , places about which 
there is something eerie . Only, the feeling of being haunted 
has in these cases not the impoverished and debased sense of 
our modern eerie feeling of being haunted by ghosts and 
spectres ; it comprises all the rich potentialities and possibilities 
of development inherent in the true primal numinous emotion. 
Nor can we doubt that even to-day the finer awe that may 
steal over us in the stillness and half-gloom of our own present- 
day sanctuaries has ultimate kinship not only with that of 
which Schiller writes in his verses : 

Und in Poseidons Fichtenhain 

Tritt er mit frommem Schauder ein, 1 

but also with genuine ghostly emotions. The faint shiver 
that may accompany such states of mind is not unrelated to 
the feeling of creeping flesh , whose numinous character we 
have already considered (p. 16). In its efforts to derive 
daemon and god forcibly from souls and spirits , animism 
is looking the wrong way. It would be, at any rate, on the 
right path if it maintained that they are haunting apparitions. 

This is partially proved by certain ancient, still extant 
terms, which long ago had reference to the original awe of the 
haunting spirit (in the good sense), and later grew to become 
designations both of the lowest and the highest forms of awe . 
Such a term is the enigmatical word asura in Sanskrit. 

Ps. xxvi. 8 : the place where Thine honour dwelleth by translating it : 
the places haunted by Thy majesty . The Sheklnah is properly the 
haunting presence of Yahweh in the Temple at Jerusalem. 
1 Schiller, Die Kraniche des Ibykus (The Cranes of Ibykus) : 
And to Poseidon s grove of pine 
With awe devout he enters in. 


Asura is the aweful or dreadful in the sense in which 
Jacob used the word, the eerie or uncanny. Later, in Indian 
religion, it is used as the technical expression for the lower 
forms of the spectral, ghostly, and daemonic. But at the same 
time it is from primaeval times a title of the sublimest of all 
the gods of the Rig- Veda, the weirdly exalted Varuna. And 
in the Persian expression Ahura-rrutzda it becomes the name 
of the one and only eternal godhead itself. The same thing 
is true of the term adbhida . You experience an adbhuta 
when you are in an empty house , pays an old definition. 1 
It is the experience of our shuddering . But, on the other 
hand, udUiuta is also the name for the supreme transcendent 
marvel and its attractive spell, the element of fascination , 
even for the eternal Brahman himself and his salvation, the 
Adt hutdm that passes beyond the reach of speech. 2 

11. Finally, it is only upon our assumption of an a priori 
basis of ideas and feelings that an explanation is forthcoming 
for the interesting phenomena to which Andrew Lang 3 rightly 
drew attention. These do not, of course, support the hypo 
thesis of a primitive monotheism , that offspring of missionary 
apologetic, which, eager to save the second chapter of Genesis, 
yet feels the shame of a modern at the walking of Yahweh in 
the garden in the cool of the day . But they do point to facts 
which remain downright riddles, if we start from any natural 
istic foundation of religion whether animism, pantheism, or 
another and must in that case be got out of the way by the 
most violent hypotheses. The essence of the matter is this, 

1 A-dbhuta means literally the inapprehensible, inexpressible. But in 
the Gist instance it is exactly our mysterium stupcndutn, whereas aswa 
is the tr> mendum. 

1 Adbhuta (and focnrya) would be an accurate rendering in Sanskrit 
for our numinous , were it not that the word, like the German wunder- 
bar and the English awful , has long ago become trite and shallow 
from the profane non-religious uses to which it has been so per 
petually put. 

s Myth, llitual, and Religion, 1899. Th> Mnkiny of Ileligion, 1902. 
Mayic and Iieli<jion, 1901. Cf. also P. W. Schmidt, Gruncllinien einer 
Vergleichung der Iteliyionen und Mytholoyien der austrontaischen Vulker> 
Vienna, 1910. 


that elements and strands are to be found in numerous 
mythologies and the stories of savage tribes, which reach 
altogether beyond the point they have otherwise attained 
in religious rites and usages. Notions of high gods are 
adumbrated, with whom the savage has often hardly any rela 
tions in practice, if any at all, and in whom he yet acknow 
ledges, almost in spite of himself, a value superior to that of 
all other mythological images, a value which may well accord 
with the divine in the highest sense. 

Sometimes, but by no means always, we can discern that these 
anticipations of a higher religious experience are the outcome 
of a past growth of myth. What is characteristic and at the 
same time so puzzling is the elevation with which they stand 
out from the surrounding more primitive religious life amid 
which they are found. Indeed, in cases where missions have 
introduced the preaching of Christian theism, these appre 
hended, exalted divinities are readily and frequently identified 
with God and reinforce the preaching of the missionary. And 
converts often come to admit that, though they had not 
honoured God, they had had knowledge of Him. It is, of 
course, true that this sort of fact can sometimes be explained 
as due to traditional influences, protracted from an earlier time, 
when the tribe in question was in contact with a higher theistic 
religion : the very names given to these higher beings some 
times prove as much. But even in this form the phenomenon 
is a very singular one. Why should savages , set in other 
respects in an utterly alien milieu of barbaric superstition, 
accept and, what is more, retain these notions, unless their own 
savage minds were so predisposed to them that, so far from 
being able to let them go, they were obliged to take at least 
an interest in them as a tradition and very frequently to 
acknowledge their authority by the felt witness of their own 
consciences? But, though the theory of a surviving tradi 
tion is sometimes applicable, there are many of these cases in 
which it is impossible to apply it without doing violence to the 
facts. In these we have clearly to do with anticipations 
and presentiments rather than survivals. Assuming the 
continual pressure and operation of an inward reasonable 


disposition to form certain ideas, these anticipations are not 
only no matter for surprise ; they are as naturally to be 
expected as are the achievements of gipsy musicians, who, set 
otherwise in a milieu of the most primitive culture, yet respond 
to the pressure of a strong, innate, musical disposition. With 
out such an assumption, the facts would remain as an insoluble 

Naturalistic psychologists, in this as in other cases, ignore a 
fact which might be thought at least to have a psychological 
interest, and which they could notice in themselves by careful 
introspection, namely, the self-attestation of religious ideas in 
one s own mind. This is, to be sure, more certain in the case 
of the naive than in that of the more blase* mind ; but many 
people would identify it in their own consciousness if they 
would only recall deliberately and impartially their hours of 
preparation for the ceremony of confirmation . But what tho 
mind attests it can also under favourable circumstances 
evince and elicit from itself in premonitory stirring and felt 
surmise. The upholders of the theory of Primitive Mono 
theism , on the other hand, show no less serious disregard of 
this central fact than the naturalistic psychologists. For if 
the phenomena w r e have been considering were based simply 
and solely on historical traditions and dim memories of a 
primeval revelation , as on such a theory they must be, this 
self-attestation from within would be just as much excluded 
as before. * 

1 Compare with this chapter my recently published book Das Geftihl 
da Uiti-u-eltlichen, especially Chapter VI: Das Werden eines Gottea. 



IT is not only the more developed forms of religious experi 
ence that must be counted underivable and a priori. The same 
holds good throughout and is no less true of the primitive, 
crude , and rudimentary emotions of daemonic dread which, 
as we have seen, stand at the threshold of religious evolution. 
Religion is itself present at its commencement : religion, nothing 
else, is at work in these early stages of mythic and daemonic 
experience. Let us consider the circumstances in which alone 
the primitive and crude character of these consists. 

(a) First, it is due to the merely gradual emergence and 
successive awakening of the several moments of the numinous. 
The numinous only unfolds its full content by slow degrees, as 
one by one the series of requisite stimuli or incitements becomes 
operative. But where any whole is as yet incompletely pre 
sented its earlier and partial constituent moments or elements, 
aroused in isolation, have naturally something bizarre, unin 
telligible, and even grotesque about them. This is especially 
true of that religious moment which would appear to have 
been in every case the first to be aroused in the human mind, 
viz. daemonic dread. Considered alone and per se, it necessarily 
and naturally looks more like the opposite of religion than 
religion itself. If it is singled out from the elements which form 
its context, it appears rather to resemble a dreadful form of 
auto-suggestion, a sort of psychological nightmare of the tribal 
mind, than to have anything to do with religion ; and the 
supernatural beings with whom men at this early stage profess 
relations appear as phantoms, projected by a morbid, unde 
veloped imagination afflicted by a sort of persecution-phobia. 
One can understand how it is that not a few inquirers could 
seriously imagine that * religion began with devil-worship, 
and that at bottom the devil is more ancient than God. 


To this serial and gradual awakening of the different aspects 
and moments of the numinous is also to be ascribed the 
difficulty of classifying religions by genus and species. Every 
one who undertakes the task produces a different classification. 
For the facts to be classified are for the most part not at all 
related as the distinct species of one and the same genus ; they 
are not alternative, determinate forms into which the whole 
religion may be analysed, but constituent elements, out of 
which it is to be synthesized or built up. It is as though 
a whale should begin to show itself above the water part 
by part, and as though people should then attempt to classify 
the arched back, the end of the tail, and the head spouting 
water, by genus and species, instead of seeking for such a real 
understanding of these phenomena as would recognize each of 
them in its place and proper connexion with the rest as a part 
and member of one whole body, which must itself have been 
grasped in its entirety before its parts could be properly 

(b) In the second place, the primitiveness of the cruder 
phases is due to the abrupt, capricious, and desultory character 
which marks the earliest form of numinous emotion ; and, in 
consequence, to its indistinctness, which causes it to be merged 
and confounded with natural feelings. 

(c) It is due, next, to the fact that the valuation prompted 
by the moment of numinous consciousness (e.g. the * daemonic 
dread phase) is attached in the first place, and very naturally, 
to objects, occurrences, and entities falling within the workaday 
world of primitive experience, which prompt or give occasion 
to the stirring of numinous emotion by analogy and then divert 
it to themselves. This circumstance is more than anything 
else the root of what has been called nature-worship and the 
deification of natural objects. Only gradually, under pressure 
from the numinous feeling itself, are such connexions subse 
quently spiritualized or ultimately altogether rejected, and 
not till then does the obscure content of the feeling, with its 

O ? 

reference to absolute transcendent reality, come to light in all 
its integrity and self -subsistence. 

(d) A fourth factor contributing to the crudity of primitive 


religion is the uncontrolled, enthusiastic form, making for 
wild fanaticism, in which the numinous feeling storms the 
savage mind, appearing as religious mania, possession by 
the numen, intoxication, and frenzy. 

(e) Again, a quite essential factor is the wrong schematiza- 
tions it undergoes, when interpreted in terms of some experi 
ence analogous, perhaps, but not really appertaining to it. 
Examples of this have already been given (e.g. p. 127). 

(/) Finally, and most important, there is the deficient 
rationalization and moralization of the experience, for it is 
only gradually that the numinous feeling becomes charged 
with progressively rational, moral, and cultural significance. 

These considerations account for the primitive and savage 
character of the numinous consciousness at its outset. But it 
must be repeated that in its content even the first stirring of 
4 daemonic dread is a purely a priori element. In this respect 
it may be compared from first to last with the aesthetic judge 
ment and the category of the beautiful. Utterly different as 
my mental experiences are when I recognize an object as 
beautiful or as horrible , yet both cases agree in this, that 
I ascribe to the object an attribute that professes to interpret 
it, which I do not and cannot get from sense-experience, but 
which I rather ascribe to it by a spontaneous judgement of my 
own. Intuitively I apprehend in the object only its sensuous 
qualities and its spatial form, nothing more. That the mean 
ing I call beautiful fits the object, i. e. that these sense-data 
mean beautiful , or even that there is any such meaning 
at all these are facts which sensory elements can in no wise 
supply or tell me. I must have an obscure conception of the 
beautiful itself , and, in addition, a principle of subsumption, 
by which I attribute it to the object, else even the simplest 
experience of a beautiful thing is rendered impossible. And 
this analogy may be pursued further. Joy in the beautiful, 
however analogous to mere pleasure in the agreeable, is yet 
distinguishable from it by a plain difference in quality, and 
cannot be derived from anything other than itself ; and just 
such is the relation of the specific religious awe to mere natural 


The crude stage is transcended as the numen reveals 
iteelf (i. e. becomes manifest to mind and feeling) ever more 
strongly and fully. An essential factor in this is the process 
by which it is tilled out and charged with rational elements, 
whereby it passes at the same time into the region of the con 
ceivable and comprehensible. Yet all the time all the elements 
of non-rational inconceivability are retained on the side 
of the numinous and intensified as the revelation proceeds. 
Revelation does not mean a mere passing over into the 
intelligible and comprehensible. Something may be profoundly 
and intimately known in feeling for the bliss it brings or the 
agitation it produces, and yet the understanding may find no 
concept for it. To know and to understand conceptually are 
two different things, are often even mutually exclusive and 
contrasted. The mysterious obscurity of the numen is by no 
means tantamount to unknowableness. Assuredly the deus 
alsconditus et incomprehensibUis was for Luther no deus 
ignotuts . And so, too, St. Paul knows the Peace, which yet 
passeth understanding . 



WE conclude, then, that not only the rational but also the 
non-rational elements of the complex category of holiness 
are a priori elements and each in the same degree. Religion 
is not in vassalage either to morality or teleology, ethos or 
telos , and does not draw its life from postulates ; and its 
non-rational content has, no less than its rational, its own 
independent roots in the hidden depths of the spirit itself. 

But the same a priori character belongs, in the third place, 
to the connexion of the rational and the non-rational elements 
in religion, their inward and necessary union. The histories 
of religion recount indeed, as though it were something 
axiomatic, the gradual interpretation of the two, the pro 
cess by which the divine is charged and filled out with 
ethical meaning. And this process is, in fact, felt as some 
thing axiomatic, something whose inner necessity we feel 
to be self-evident. But then this inward self-evidence 
is a problem in itself; we are forced to assume an obscure, 
a priori knowledge of the necessity of this synthesis, com 
bining rational and non-rational. For it is not by any 
means a logical necessity. How should it be logically inferred 
from the still crude , half-daemonic character of a moon-god 
or a sun-god or a numen attached to some locality, that he 
is a guardian and guarantor of the oath and of honourable 
dealing, of hospitality, of the sanctity of marriage, and of 
duties to tribe and clan ? How should it be inferred that he 
is a god who decrees happiness and misery, participates in the 
concerns of the tribe, provides for its well-being, and directs 
the course of destiny and history ? Whence comes this most 
surprising of all the facts in the history of religion, that 


beings, obviously born originally of horror and terror, become 
g ( d# beings to whom men pray, to whom they confide their 
Borrow or their happiness, in whom they behold the origin and 
the sanction of morality, law, and the whole canon of justice 1 
And how does all this come about in such a way that, when 
once such ideas have been aroused, it is understood at once as 
the plainest and most evident of axioms, that so it must be ? 

Socrates, in Plato s Jiejwllic, ii. 382 E, says: God then is 
single and true in deed and word, and neither changes himself 
nor deceives others . . . And Adeimantos answers him : So 
too is it apparent to me, now that you say it. The most 
interesting point in this passage is not the elevation and purity 
of the conception of God, nor yet the lofty rationalization and 
moralizatioD of it here enunciated, but, on the side of Socrates, 
the apparently dogmatic tone of his pronouncement for he 
does not spend the least pains in demonstrating it and, on the 
side of Adeimantos, the ingenuous surprise and, at the same 
time, the confident assurance with which he admits a truth 
novel to him. And his assent is such as implies convincement ; 
he does not simply believe Socrates ; he sees clearly for himself 
the truth of his words. Now this is the criterion of all a priori 
knowledge, namely, that, so soon as an assertion has been clearly 
expressed and understood, knowledge of its truth comes into 
the mind with the certitude of first-hand insight. And what 
passed here between Socrates and Adeimantos has been repeated 
a thousand times in the history of religions. Amos, also, says 
something new when he proclaims Yahweh as the God of 
inflexible, universal, and absolute righteousness, and yet this is 
a novelty that he neither proves nor justifies by an appeal 
to authorities. He appeals to a priori judgements, viz. to 
the religious conscience itself, and this in truth bears witness 
to his message. 

Luther, again, recognizes and maintains such an a j/riori 
knowledge of the divine nature. His rage against the whore 
Reason leads him, to be sure, usually to utterances in the 
opposite sense, such as the following : 

1 It is a knowledge a posteriori, in that we look at God from 
without, at His works and His government, as one looketh at 


a castle or house from without and thereby f eeleth (spuret) the 
lord or householder thereof. But a priori from within hath no 
wisdom of men yet availed to discover what and of what 
manner of being is God as He is in Himself or in His inmost 
essence, nor can any man know nor say aught thereof, but they 
to whom it has been revealed by the Holy Ghost. 

Here Luther overlooks the fact that a man must feel 
or detect the householder a priori or not at all. But in other 
passages he himself allows the general human reason to possess 
many true cognitions of what God is in Himself or in His 
inmost essence . Compare the following : 

Atque ipsamet ratio naturalis cogitur earn concedere 
proprio suo iudicio convicta, etiamsi nulla esset scriptura. 
Omnes enim homines inveniunt hanc sententiam in cordibus 
Buis scriptam et agnoscunt earn ac probatam, licet inviti, cum 
audiant earn tractari : primo, Deum esse omnipotentem . . . 
deinde, ipsum omnia nosse et praescire, neque errare neque 
falli posse . . . Istis duobus corde et sensu concessis . . . l 

The interesting words of this statement are : proprio suo 
iudicio convicta, for they make the distinction between cogni 
tions and mere innate ideas or supernaturally instilled 
notions, both of which latter may produce thoughts , but not 
convictions ex proprio iudicio . Note also the words : cum 
audiant earn tractari , which exactly correspond to the experi 
ence of Plato s Adeimantos, already quoted. 2 

1 Luther, Weimar ed., xviii. 719: And the natural reason itself is 
forced, even were there no holy scripture, to grant it (sc. this assertion), 
convinced by its own judgement. For all men, as soon as they hear it 
treated of, find this belief written in their hearts, and acknowledge it 
as proved, even unwillingly : first, that God is omnipotent, . . . then, 
that He has knowledge and foreknowledge of all things and can neither 
err nor be deceived . . . Since these two things are admitted by heart 
and feeling . . . 

2 The most interesting features in Luther in this connexion, however^ 
are the passages upon Faith , in which Faith is described as a unique 
cognitive faculty for the apprehension of divine truth, and as such is con 
trasted with the natural capacities of the Understanding, as elsewhere 
the Spirit is contrasted. Faith is here like the Synteresis in the 
theory of knowledge of the mystics, the inward teacher (maciister in- 
ternus) of Augustine, and the inward light of the Quakers, which are all 
of them of course above reason , but yet an a priori element in ourselves. 


It is the same experience which missionaries have so often 
undergone. Once enunciated and understood, the ideas of the 
unity and goodness of the divine nature often take a surpris 
ingly short time to become firmly fixed in the hearer s mind, if 
he show any susceptibility for religious feeling. Frequently, 
thereupon, the hearer adapts the religious tradition that has 
hitherto been his to the new meaning he has learned. Or, 


A particularly striking passage is the following from Luther s TaUe- 
Talk (Wei. v. 5820) : 

Omnium hominum mentibus impressa est divinitus notitia Dei. Quod 
sit Dous, omnes homines sine ullaartium et disciplinarum cognitione sola 
natura duce sciunt,et omnium hominum mentibus hoc divinitus impressum 
est. Nulla umquam fuit tarn fera gens et immanis, quae non crediderit, 
esse divinitatem quandam, quae omnia creavit. Itaque Paulus inquit : 
Invisibilia Dei a creatura rnundi per ea f quae facta sunt, intellecta con- 
spiciuntur, sempiterna eius virtus et divinit-is. Quare omnes ethnici 
eciveiunt esse Deum, quanturavis fuerunt Epicurei, quantumvis con- 
tenderunt, non esse Deum. Non in eo, quod negant esse Deum, simul 
confessi sunt esse Deum ? Nemo enim negare id potest, quod nescit 
Quare, etsi quidam per omnem vitam in maximis versati sunt flagitiis et 
eceleribus et non aliter omnino vixerunt, ac si nullus esset Deus, tamen 
nunquam conscientiam animis potuerunt eicere testantem et affir- 
mantem, quod sit Deus. Et quamvis ilia conscientia pravis et perversis 
opinionibus ad tempus oppressa fuit, redit tamen et convincit eos iu 
extn-mae vitae spiritu. 

The knowledge of God is impressed upon the mind of every man by 
God. Under the sole guidance of nature all men know that God is 
without any acquaintance with the arts or sciences ; and this is divinely 
imprinted upon all men s minds. There has never been a people so wild 
and cavage that it did not believe that there is some divine power that 
created all things. And thus it is that Paul says: "the invisible things 
of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood 
by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead." 
Wherefore all the Gentiles knew that there is a God, however much they 
were Epicureans, however much they maintained that there is no God. 
Did they not confess God s being in that very denial of Him? For no 
one can deny that of which he has no knowledge. Wherefore, although 
men have all their lives long been occupied in the greatest sins and 
crimes and have lived just as though there were no God, yet they have 
never been able to cast forth from their minds the conscience that testifies 
and afiirms that God is. And although that conscience has been over 
borne for a time by evil and perverse opinions, yet it comes back to 
convict them in their life s final breath. 


where resistance is offered to the new teaching, it is yet often 
noticeably in the face of pressure the other way from the 
man s own conscience. Such experiences have been made 
known to me by missionaries among the Tibetans and among 
African negroes, and it would be interesting to make a collection 
of them, both in regard to the general question of the a priori 
factors in religion, and especially as throwing light upon the 
a priori knowledge of the essential interdependence of the 
rational and the non -rational elements in the idea of God. 
For this the history of religion is itself an almost unanimous 
witness. Incomplete and defective as the process of moralizing 
the numina may often have been throughout the wide regions 
of primitive religious life, everywhere there are traces of it to 
be found. And wherever religion, escaping from its first 
crudity of manifestation, has risen to a higher type, this 
process of synthesis has in all cases set in and continued 
more and more positively. And this is all the more remark 
able when one considers at what widely different dates the 
imaginative creation of the figures of gods had its rise in 
different cases, and under what diverse conditions of race, 
natural endowment, and social and political structure its 
evolution proceeded. All this points to the existence of 
a priori factors universally and necessarily latent in the 
human spirit : those, in fact, which we can find directly in 
our own religious consciousness, when we, too, like Adeimantos, 
naively and spontaneously concur with Socrates saying, as 
with an axiom whose truth we have seen for ourselves : God 
is single, and true in deed and word. 

As the rational elements, following a priori principles, come 
together in the historical evolution of religions with the non- 
rational, they serve to schematize these. This is true, not 
only in general of the relation of the rational aspect of the 
holy , taken as a whole, to its non-rational, taken as a whole, 
but also in detail of the several constituent elements of the 
two aspects. The tremendum, the daunting and repelling 
moment of the numinous, is schematized by means of the 
rational ideas of justice, moral will, and the exclusion of what 
is opposed to morality ; and schematized thus, it becomes the 


holy Wrath of God , which Scripture and Christian preaching 
alike proclaim. The fascinans, the attracting and alluring 
moment of the numinous, is schematized by means of the 
ideas of goodness, mercy, love, and, so schematized, becomes 
all that we mean by Grace, that term so rich in import, which 
unites with the holy Wrath in a single harmony of contrasts , 
and like it is, from the numinous strain in it, tinged with Mys 
ticism. The moment mysteriosum is schematized by the abso 
luteness of all rational attributes applied to the Deity. Probably 
the correspondence here implied between the mysterious 
and the absoluteness of all rational attributes will not appear 
at first sight so immediately evident as in the two foregoing 
cases, Wrath and Grace. None the less it is a very exact 
correspondence. God s rational attributes can be distinguished 
from like attributes applied to the created spirit by being not 
relative, as tho^e are, but absolute. Human love is relative, 
admitting of degrees, and it is the same with human know 
ledge and human goodness. God s love and knowledge and 
goodness, on the other hand, and all else that can be asserted 
of Him in conceptual terms, are formally absolute. The content 
of the attributes is the same ; it is an element of form which 
marks them apart as attributes of God. But such an element 
of form is also the mysterious as such : it is, as we saw on 
p. 31, the formal aspect of the wholly other . But to this 
plain correspondence of the two things, the mysterious and 
the absoluteness of rational attributes, a further one must be 
added. Our understanding can only compass the relative. 
That which is in contrast absolute, though it may in a sense 
be thought, cannot be thought home, thought out ; it is within 
the reach of our conceiving, but it is beyond the grasp of our 
comprehension. Now, though this does not make what ia 
absolute itself genuinely mysterious , as this term was 
expounded on p. 28, it does make it a genuine schema of the 
mysterious . The absolute exceeds our power to comprehend ; 
the mysterious wholly eludes it. The absolute is that which 
surpasses the limits of our understanding, not through its 
actual qualitative character, for that is familiar to us, but 
through its formal character. The mysterious, on the other 



hand, is that which lies altogether outside what can be thought, 
and is, alike in form, quality, and essence, the utterly and 
wholly other . We see, then, that in the case of the moment 
of mystery , as well as those of awef ulness and fascina 
tion , there is an exact correspondence between the non- 
rational element and its rational schema, and one that admits 
of development. 

By the continual living activity of its non-rational elements 
a religion is guarded from passing into rationalism . By 
being steeped in and saturated with rational elements it is 
guarded from sinking into fanaticism or mere mysticality, or 
at least from persisting in these, and is qualified to become a 
religion for all civilized humanity. The degree in which 
both rational and non-rational elements are jointly present, 
united in healthy and lovely harmony, affords a criterion 
to measure the relative rank of religions and one, too, 
that is specifically religious. Applying this criterion, we 
find that Christianity, in this as in other respects, stands 
out in complete superiority over all its sister religions. 
The lucid edifice of its clear and pure conceptions, feelings, 
and experiences is built up on a foundation that goes far 
deeper than the rational. Yet the non-rational is only the 
basis, the setting, the woof in the fabric, ever preserving for 
Christianity its mystical depth, giving religion thereby the 
deep undertones and heavy shadows of Mysticism, without 
letting it develop into a mere rank growth of mysticality. 
And thus Christianity, in the healthily proportioned union of 
its elements, assumes an absolutely classical form and dignity, 
which is only the more vividly attested in consciousness as we 
proceed honestly and without prejudice to set it in its place in 
the comparative study of religions. Then we shall recognize 
that in Christianity an element of man s spiritual life, which 
yet has its analogies in other fields, has for the first time come 
to maturity in a supreme and unparalleled way. 



IT is one thing merely to believe in a reality beyond the 
senses and another to have experience of it also ; it is one 
thing to have ideas of the holy and another to become 
consciously aware of it as an operative reality, intervening 
actively in the phenomenal world. Now it is a fundamental 
conviction of all religions, of religion as such, we may say, 
that this latter is possible as well as the former. Religion is 
convinced not only that the holy and sacred reality is attested 
by the inward voice of conscience and the religious conscious 
ness, the still, small voice of the Spirit in the heart, by feeling, 
presentiment, and longing, but also that it may be directly 
encountered in particular occurrences and events, self-revealed 
in persons and displayed in actions, in a word, that beside the 
inner revelation from the Spirit there is an outward revelation 
of the divine nature. Religious language gives the name of 
sign to such demonstrative actions and manifestations, in 
which holiness stands palpably self-revealed. From the time 
of the most primitive religions everything has counted as 
a sign that was able to arouse in man the sense of the holy, 
to excite the feeling of apprehended sanctity, and stimulate it 
into open activity. Of this kind were those factors and circum 
stances of which we have already spoken the thing terrible, 
sublime, overpowering, or astounding, and in an especial 
degree the uncomprehended, mysterious thing, which became 
the portent and miracle . But, as we saw, all these were 
not signs in the true sense, but opportunities, circumstances, 
prompting the religious feeling to awake of itself; and the 

L 2 


factor promoting this result was found to lie in an element 
common to them all, but merely analogous with the holy . 
The interpretation of them as actual appearances of the holy 
itself in its own nature meant, we saw, a confounding of the 
category of holiness with something only outwardly resembling 
it : it was not a genuine anamnesis , a genuine recognition of 
the holy in its own authentic nature, made manifest in appear 
ance. And therefore we find that such false recognitions of 
the holy are later rejected and wholly or partly extruded as 
inadequate or simply unworthy, so soon as a higher level of 
development and a purer religious judgement have been reached. 
There is a precisely parallel process in another department of 
judgement, that of aesthetic taste. While the taste is still 
crude, a feeling or fore-feeling of the beautiful begins to stir, 
which must come from an obscure a priori conception of 
beauty already present, else it could not occur at all. The 
man of crude taste, not being capable of a clear recognition 
of authentic beauty, falls into confusion and misapplies this 
obscure, dim conception of the beautiful, judging things to be 
beautiful which are in fact not beautiful at all. Here, as in 
the case of the judgement of holiness, the principle underlying 
the erroneous judgement of beauty is one of faint analogy. 
Certain elements in the thing wrongly judged to be beautiful 
have a closer or remoter analogy to real beauty. And later 
here, too, when his taste has been educated, the man rejects 
with strong aversion the quasi-beautiful but not really beauti 
ful thing and becomes qualified to see and to judge rightly, 
i. e. to recognize as beautiful the outward object in which the 
beauty of which he has an inward notion and standard 
really appears . 

Let us call the faculty, of whatever sort it may be, of 
genuinely cognizing and recognizing the holy in its appear 
ances, the faculty of divination. Does such a faculty exist, 
and, if so, what is its nature ? 

To the supernaturalistic theory the matter is simple 
enough. Divination consists in the fact that a man encounters 
an occurrence that is not natural , in the sense of being 
inexplicable by the laws of nature. Since it has actually 


occurred, it must have had a cause ; and, since it has no 
1 natural cause, it must (so it is said) have a supernatural 
one. This theory of divination is a genuine, solidly rationalist 
theory, put together with rigid concepts in a strict demon 
strative form and intended as such. And it claims that the 
capacity or faculty of divination is the understanding, the 
faculty of reflection in concept and demonstration. The 
transcendent is here proved as strictly as anything can be 
proved, logically from given premisses. 

It would be almost superfluous to adduce in detail in oppo 
sition to this view the argument that we have no possibility 
of establishing that an event did not arise from natural causes 
or was in conflict with the laws of nature. The religious con 
sciousness itself rises against this desiccation and materializa 
tion of what in all religion is surely the most tender and 
living moment, the actual discovery of and encounter with very 
deity. Here, if anywhere, coercion by proof and demonstra 
tion and the mistaken application of logical and juridical pro 
cesses should be excluded ; here, if anywhere, should be liberty, 
the unconstrained recognition and inward acknowledgement 
that comes from deep within the soul, stirred spontaneously, 
apart from all conceptual theory. If not natural science or 
metaphysics , at least the matured religious consciousness 
itself spurns such ponderously solid intellectualistic explana 
tions. They are born of rationalism and engender it again ; 
and, as for genuine divination , they not only impede 
it, but despise it as extravagant emotionalism, mysticality, 
and false romanticism. Genuine divination, in short, has 
nothing whatever to do with natural law and the relation 
or lack of relation to it of something experienced. It is not 
concerned at all with the way in which a phenomenon be it 
event, person, or thing came into existence, but with what it 
mean*, that is, with its significance as a sign of the holy. 

The faculty or capacity of divination appears in the lan 
guage of dogma hidden beneath the fine name testimonium 
Spiritus Sancti internum , the inner witness of the Holy Spirit 
limited, in the case of dogma, to the recognition of Scripture 
as Holy . And this name is the only right one, and right in 


a more than figurative sense, when the capacity of divination 
is itself grasped and appraised by divination. This is not 
our task here. We therefore employ a psychological rather 
than a religious expression as being more appropriate to the 
nature of our discussion. 

In this sense, then, divination is no new theological 
discovery. Schleiermacher, in his Discourses upon Religion 
(1799), Jacob Friedrich Fries, in his doctrine of Ahndung 
( inkling , surmise, presage), and Schleiermacher s colleague 
and Fries s pupil, De Wette, have all in effect made use of it 
and given it a footing in theology, the last-named with special 
reference to the divination of the divine in history, under the 
name Surmise of the divine government of the world . I 
have discussed Schleiermacher s discovery at greater length in 
my edition of his Discourses, 1 and in my volume, Kantisch- 
Fries sche Religionsphilosophie und ihre Anwendung auf die 
Theologie, I have given a more precise statement of the 
Ahndung theory, as it is found in Fries and De Wette. 
To these two works the reader is referred for a more detailed 
exposition of the matter, and I shall here note only very 
briefly the more salient features of this doctrine. 

What Schleiermacher is feeling after is really the faculty or 
capacity of deeply absorbed contemplation, when confronted 
by the vast, living totality and reality of things as it is in 
nature and history. Wherever a mind is exposed in a spirit 
of absorbed submission to impressions of the universe , it 
becomes capable so he lays it down of experiencing intui 
tions and feelings (Anschauungen and Gefuhle) of something 
that is, as it were, a sheer overplus, in addition to empirical 
reality. This overplus, while it cannot be apprehended by 
mere theoretic cognition of the world and the cosmic system 
in the form it assumes for science, can nevertheless be really 
and truly grasped and experienced in intuition, and is given 
form in single intuitions . And these, in turn, assume 
shape in definite statements and propositions, capable of a 
certain groping formulation, which are not without analogy 

1 Schleierraacher s Vber die Religion. Vandenboeck & Ruprecht, 
Gottingen, pp. 17 ft . 


with theoretic propositions, but are to be clearly distin 
guished from them by their free and merely felt, not reasoned, 
character. In themselves they are groping intimations of 
meanings figuratively apprehended. They cannot be em 
ployed as statements of doctrine in the strict sense, and 
can neither bo built into a system nor used as premisses 
for theoretical conclusions. But, though these intuitions are 
limited and inadequate, they are none the less indisputably 
true, i. e. true as far as they go ; and for all Schleiermacher s 
aversion to the word in this connexion they must certainly be 
termed cognitions, modes of knowing, though, of course, not 
the product of reflection, but the intuitive outcome of feeling. 
Their import is the glimpse of an Eternal, in and beyond the 
temporal and penetrating it, the apprehension of a ground and 
meaning of things in and beyond the empirical and transcend 
ing it. They are surmises or inklings of a Reality fraught 
with mystery and momentousness. And it is to be noted that 
Schleiermacher himself sometimes avails himself of the term 
tahnden (divining, surmise) instead of his principal ones, 
intuition and feeling , and expressly connects together the 
divination of prophecy and the knowledge of miracle in the 
religious sense of a sign . 

When Schleiermacher, in expounding the nature of the 
experience, tries to elucidate its object by giving examples, he 
is for the most part led to adduce impressions of a higher 
TAo9, an ultimate, mysterious, cosmic purposiveness, of which 
we have a prescient intimation. Here he is quite in agree 
ment with the exposition of Fries, who defines the faculty of 
1 Ahnduiig as being just a faculty of divining the objective 
teleology of the world. And De Wette says the same thing 
even more unreservedly. But in Schleiermacher this rational 
element is none the less grounded in eternal mystery, that 
basis of the cosmos that goes beyond reason. This is shown 
in the groping, hesitant, tentative manner in which the mean 
ing of the experience always reveals itself. And it is 
emphasized especially forcibly when Schleiermacher shows 
where in his own case this experience is to be found in the 
world he confronts; that it is not so much in its universal 


conformity to law a rational quality, interpretable by the 
intellect in terms of purpose but rather by means of what 
appears to us as a baffling exception to law, thereby hinting 
at a meaning that eludes our understanding. 1 

No intellectual, dialectical dissection or justification of such 
intuition is possible, nor indeed should any be attempted, for 
the essence most peculiar to it would only be destroyed 
thereby. Rather it is once again to aesthetic judgements we 
must look for the plainest analogy to it. And the faculty of 
judging (Urteilsvermogen), here presupposed by Schleiermacher, 
certainly belongs to that Judgement (Urteilskraft), which 
Kant analyses in his Third Critique, and which he himself sets 
as aesthetic judgement in antithesis to logical judgement. 
Only, we may not infer from this that the particular several 
judgements passed in this way need be judgements of taste 
in their content. Kant s distinction between the aesthetic 
and logical judgement did not mean to imply that the faculty 
of aesthetic judgement was a judgement upon aesthetic 
objects in the special narrow sense of the term aesthetic , as 
being concerned with the beautiful. His primary intention 
is simply and in general terms to separate the faculty of judge 
ment based upon feeling of whatever sort from that of 
the understanding, from discursive, conceptual thought and 
inference ; and his term aesthetic is simply meant to mark 
as the peculiarity of the former that, in contrast to logical 
judgement, it is not worked out in accordance with a clear 
intellectual scheme, but in conformity to obscure, dim princi 
ples which must be felt and cannot be stated explicitly as 
premisses. Kant employs sometimes another expression also 
to denote such obscure, dim principles of judgement, based on 
pure feeling, viz. the phrase not-unfolded or unexplicated 
concepts ( unausgewickelte Begriffe ); and his meaning is 
here exactly that of the poet, when he says: 

Und wecket der dunklen Gefiihle Gewalt, 
Die im Herzen wunderbar schliefen. 2 

1 Op. cit., p. 53. 

1 It waketh the power of feelings obscure 
That in the heart wondrously slumbered/ 

(SCHILLER: Der Graf von Habsburg.) 


Or again : 

Was von Menschen nicht gewusst 
Oder nicht bedacht, 
Durch das Labyrinth der Brust 
Wandelt bei der Nacht. 1 

On the other hand, those judgements that spring from pure 
contemplative feeling also resemble judgements of aesthetic 
taste in claiming, like them, objective validity, universality, 
and necessity. The apparently subjective and personal char 
acter of the judgement of taste, expressed in the maxim : De 
gustibus non disputandum , simply amounts to this, that 
tastes of different degrees of culture and maturity are first 
compared, then so opposed one to the other that agreement is 
impossible. But unanimity, even in judgements of taste, grows 
and strengthens in the measure in which the taste matures 
with exercise ; so that even here, despite the proverb, there is 
the possibility of taste being expounded and taught, the 
possibility of a continually improving appreciation, of con- 
vincement and conviction. And if this is true of the judgement 
arising from aesthetic feeling in the narrower sense, it is at least 
equally true of the judgement arising from contemplation . 
Where, on the basis of a real talent in this direction, contempla 
tion grows by careful exercise in depth and inwardness, there 
what one man feels can be expounded and brought to con 
sciousness in another : one man can both educate himself to 
a genuine and true manner of feeling and be the means of 
bringing others to the same point ; and that is what corre 
sponds in the domain of contemplation to the part played 
by argument and persuasion in that of logical conviction. 

Schleiermacher s exposition of his great discovery suffers 
from two defects. We will consider one of them here, leaving 
the other to the next chapter. Schleiermacher, then, naively 
and unreflectingly assumes this faculty or capacity of divi 
nation to be a universal one. In point of fact it is not 

1 What beyond our conscious knowing 
Or our thought*! extremist span 
Threads by nijjht the labyrinthine 
Pathways of the breast of man. 

(GoETHE : An den Alond.) 


universal if this means that it could be presupposed necessarily 
in every man of religious conviction as an actual fact, though 
of course Schleiermacher is quite right in counting it among 
the general capacities of mind and spirit, and regarding it 
indeed as the deepest and most peculiar element in mind, and 
in that sense man being defined by his intelligent mind- 
calling it a universal human element. But what is a 
universal potentiality of man as such is by no means to be 
found in actuality the universal possession of every single 
man ; very frequently it is only disclosed as a special endow 
ment and equipment of particular gifted individuals. And 
Schleiermacher gives an excellent indication of how the matter 
rightly lies in his very interesting exposition of the nature and 
function of the M ittler (mediator) in his first Discourse . 
Not Man in general (as rationalism holds), but only special 
divinatory natures possess the faculty of divination in 
actuality ; and it is these that receive impressions of the 
transcendent, not the undifferentiated aggregate of homo 
geneous individuals in mutual interplay, as held by modern 
social psychology. 1 

It is questionable whether Schleiermacher himself, in spite 
of his (re-)discovery of divination , was a really divinatory 
nature, although in his first Discourse he maintains that he 
is. One of his contemporaries, to wit, Goethe, was at any 
rate decidedly his superior in this respect. In Goethe s life 
the power of divination, not latent but finding vital exercise, 
plays an important part, and it finds singular expression in 
the meaning he gives to the term daemonic , put with such 
emphasis in Dichtung und Wahrheit, Book 20, and in his 
Talks with Eckermann. 2 Let us briefly examine these. The 
most characteristic feature in his notion of the daemonic is 

1 And this is undoubtedly true as far back as the lowest levels of 
development, when the religious dread first begins to stir in primitive 
form and to manifest itself in ideas. To derive these from an original 
group- and mass-fantasy collectively operating is itself sheer fantasy, and 
the results this theory helps to produce are about as queer and grotesque 
as any of the ideas of which it treats. 

2 Cf. Goethe s Samtliche Werke, ed. Gotta, vol. xxv, pp. 124 ff. ; Ecker 
mann, Gesprache mit Goethe, ed. A. v. d. Linden, Part II, pp. 140 ff. 


that it goes beyond all conceiving , surpasses understand 
ing and reason , and consequently is inapprehensible and 
cannot properly be put into a statement : 

1 The Daemonic is that which cannot be accounted for by 
understanding and reason. It chooses for itself obscure times 
of darkness. ... In a plain, prosaic town like Berlin it would 
hardly n nd an opportunity to manifest itself. ... In Poetry 
there is from first to last something daemonic, and especially 
in its unconscious appeal, for which all intellect and reason is 
insufficient, and which, therefore, has an efficacy beyond all 
concepts. Such is the effect in Music in the highest degree, 
for Music stands too high for any understanding to reach, 
and an all-mustering eilicacy goes forth from it, of which how 
ever no man is able to give an account. Religious worship 
cannot therefore do without music. It is one of the foremost 
means to work upon men with an effect of marvel. 

Does not the daemonic (asks Eckermann) also appear in 
event* 1 Pre-eminently so, said Goethe, and assuredly in 
all which we cannot explain by intellect or reason. And 
in general it is manifested throughout nature, visible and 
invisible, in the most diverse ways. Many creatures in the 
animal kingdom are of a wholly daemonic kind, and in many 
we see some aspect of the daemonic operative. 

We notice here how the elements of the numinous we 
discovered plainly recur: the wholly non-rational, incom 
prehensible by concepts, the elements of mystery, fascination, 
awefulness, and energy. The note of the daemonic in 
the animal kingdom reminds us of Job and the leviathan . 
But in another respect Goethe s intuition falls far short of Job s 
intuition of the mysterium . By his ignoring of the warn 
ing of the book of Job and by applying to the mysterium 
the standards of the rational understanding and reason and 
conceptions of human purpose, the non-rational comes to 
involve for Goethe a contradiction between meaning and mean- 
inglessness, sense and nonsense, that which promotes and 
that which frustrates human ends. Sometimes, however, he 
approximates it to wisdom t as when he says : 

So there was something daemonic governing the circum 
stances of my acquaintance with Schiller all through. We 
might have met earlier or later. But that we should have 


met just at the time when I had my Italian tour behind me 
and Schiller had begun to weary of his philosophical specula 
tions that was a fact of great significance and fraught with 
success for both of us. 

It even comes near the divine : 

Such occurrences have often befallen me throughout my 
life. And one comes in such cases to believe in a higher 
influence (Einwirkung), something daemonic, to which one 
pays adoration, without presuming to try to explain it 

Invariably the daemonic has an import of energy and 
overpoweringness , and sets its stamp upon men of vehement 
and overpowering personality. 

Napoleon , said I, seems to have been a daemonic sort of 

* He was so absolutely and to such a degree , said Goethe, 
that hardly any other man can be compared with him in this 
respect. The late Grand Duke also was a daemonic nature, 
full of limitless, active force and restlessness. 

Has not Mephistopheles also " daemonic " traits? 

No, he is much too negative a being. The daemonic 
manifests itself in a downright positive and active power. 

In Dichtung und Wahrheit (p. 126) he delineates still better 
the impressions such numinous persons make, and in this 
passage especially sets in the foreground our tremendum as 
the element alike of dread and overpoweringness . 

This daemonic character appears in its most dreadful form 
when it stands out dominatingly in some man. Such are not 
always the most remarkable men, either in spiritual quality 
or natural talents, and they seldom have any goodness of 
heart to recommend them. 1 But an incredible force goes 
forth from them and they exercise an incredible power over 
all creatures, nay, perhaps even over the elements. And who 
can say how far such an influence may not extend ? 

But the efficacy and influence of such a daemonic man, 
even when it is beneficent, moves to amazement rather than 
to admiration ; it is more a tumultuous urgency than ordinary 
agency, and is at any rate absolutely non-rational. This is 

1 i. e. they are merely numinous , not holy men. 


what Goethe tries to describe in the series of antitheses in 
Dichtung uiid Wahrheit (p. 124): 

. . . Something that only manifested itself in contradictions 
and therefore could not be comprehended under any concept, 
still less under any one word. It was not divine, for it seemed 
unreasonable; not human, for it lacked understanding; not 
devilish, for it was beneficent ; not angelic, for it often dis 
played malicious joy. It was like chance, for it pointed to no 
consequence ; it resembled providence, for it indicated con 
nexion and unity. All that hems us in seemed penetrable to 
it ; it seemed to dispose at will of the inevitable elements of 
our being, contracting time and expanding space. Only in 
the impossible did it seem at home, and the possible it spurned 
from itself with contempt. 

Although this daemonic thing can be manifested in every 
thing corporeal and incorporeal, finding indeed most notable 
expression among animals, still it is pre-eminently with men 
that it stands in closest and most wonderful connexion, and 
there fashions a power which, if not opposed to the moral 
world order, yet intersects it in such a way that the one 
might be taken for the warp and the other for the woof. 

There can be no clearer expression than this of the pro 
digiously strong impression which divination of the numinous 
may make upon the mind, and that obviously not on a 
single occasion but repeatedly, till it has become almost 
a matter of habit. But at the same time this divina 
tion of Goethe is not one that apprehends the numinous as 
the prophet does. It does not rise to the elevation of the 
experience of Job, where the non-rational mystery is at the 
same time experienced and extolled as supra-rational, as of 
profoundest value, and as holiness in its own right. It is 
rather the fruit of a mind which, for all its depth, was not 
equal to such profundities as these, and to which, therefore, 
the non-rational counterpoint to the melody of life could only 
sound in confused consonance, not in its authentic harmony, 
indefinable but palpable. Therefore, though it is genuine 
divination, it is the divination of Goethe the pagan , as he 
sometimes used to call himself. Indeed, it is a divination that 
functions only at the level of the daemonic which, as we 
saw, precedes religion proper, not at the level of the divine 


and the holy in the truest sense ; and it shows very clearly how 
that sort of merely daemonic experience of the numinous 
may in a highly cultivated mind only stir emotional reactions 
of bewilderment and bedazzlement, without giving real light 
or warmth to the soul. Goethe did not understand how to 
adjust this divination of the daemonic to his own higher 
conception of the divine; and, when Eckermann turned the 
conversation to that, his answer was hesitating and evasive : 

* The operative, efficacious force (said I tentatively), which 
we call the daemonic", does not seem to fit in with the idea 
of the divine/ Dear boy, said Goethe, what do we know 
of the idea of the divine, and what can our narrow conceptions 
presume to tell of the Supreme Being ? If I called him by a 
hundred names, like a Turk, I should yet fall short and have 
said nothing in comparison to the boundlessness of his attri 

But, if we leave out of account the comparatively low level 
of Goethe s divination , we have yet in it a most exact 
example of what Schleiermacher had in mind. These are 
* intuitions and feelings , if not of something divine, still of 
something numinous in the natural world and in history, and 
intuitions brought to the higher vitality by an individual with 
an innate * divinatory gift. At the same time the principles 
on which this divination works cannot even be suggested, for 
all the examples Goethe may give. What does the daemonic 
really consist in ? How does he come to be conscious of it ? 
How does he identify it as one and the same through all the 
manifold and contradictory forms in which it manifests itself? 
These are the questions to which Goethe can suggest no answer. 
It is evident that in this experience he is being guided by 
mere feeling , that is, by an a priori principle that is not 
explicit and overt, but dim and obscure. 


IN the last chapter we spoke of two defects in Schleier- 
macher s doctrine of divination. The first of these his 
misleading assumption that this is a universal human faculty 
has already been considered, and we have now to turn to 
the second. This is that, though Schleiermacher s description 
of divination in relation to the world of nature and history 
has both warmth and insight, he gives no clear detailed 
account, but only the scantiest hints, of what is after all its 
worthiest object and the object most propitious to its develop 
ment, namely, the history of religion, especially that of the 
Bible and its culmination in the person of Christ himself. His 
concluding discourse makes emphatic and significant mention 
of Christianity and Christ, but Christ is here only introduced as 
the supreme divining subject, not as the object of divination par 
excellence. And it is the same in Schleiermacher s Glaubens- 
lehre . In this, too, the significance of Christ is, essentially, 
intended to be fully given in the fact that he admits us into 
the power and beatitude of his consciousness of God . Now 
this is a thought of hi^rh value, but it does not attain to that 

o o 

supreme value which Christianity imputes to Christ, of being 
in his own person holiness made manifest , that is, a person 
in whose being, life, and mode of living we realize of ourselves 
by intuition and feeling the self-revealing power and pre 
sence of the Godhead. For to the Christian it is a momentous 
question whether or no a real divination a direct, first-hand 
apprehension of holiness manifested, the intuition and * feel 
ing of it can be got from the person and life of Christ ; 
whether, in short, * the holy can be independently experienced 
in him, making him a real revelation of it. 


In this matter we can obviously get no help from the pain 
ful and fundamentally impossible inquiries, so often started* 
into Jesus consciousness of himself . They are impossible, if 
for no other reason, because the evidence at our disposal is 
neither sufficient in quantity nor appropriate to such a purpose. 
Jesus puts as the content of his message and all his utterances, 
not himself, but the kingdom , its beatitude and righteous 
ness, and, in its first and most straightforward interpretation, 
the gospel is the good tidings of the kingdom of God. 
What statements about himself do occur are fragmentary and 
incidental But even were this not the case, even if we could 
find in the gospels a detailed theory of Jesus as to his own 
nature, what would this prove ? Religious enthusiasts have 
not infrequently had recourse to the most exalted modes of 
self -proclamation, and often enough no doubt their statements 
about themselves have been completely bona fide and sincere. 
And it is just such self-revealing statements of the prophets of 
all ages that are more than any others dependent for their form 
upon their temporal or local context, the equipment of myth 
or dogma with which his environment supplies the speaker. 
The fact that the prophet or seer or inspired teacher applies 
all this material to state something about himself merely 
demonstrates the intensity of his self-consciousness, his sense 
of mission, his conviction, and his claim to belief and obedi 
ence all of which are to be taken for granted where a man 
stands forward in response to an inner call. The immediate, 
intuitive divination of which we are speaking would indeed 
not come as a result of such statements by the prophet 
about himself, however complete ; they can arouse a belief in 
his authority, but cannot bring about the peculiar experience 
of spontaneous insight that here is something holy made 
manifest. * We have heard him ourselves and know that this 
is indeed the Christ (St. John iv. 42). 

It cannot now be doubted that such an avowal was made to 
him as a result of a spontaneous, original divination. This must 
at any rate be true of Christ s own first disciples. Otherwise 
it would be unintelligible how the Church could have come 
into existence at all. Mere proclamation, mere authoritative 


statement, cannot bring about these massive certainties and 
that impelling strength, that power to maintain and assert 
itself, which were necessary if the Christian community was 
to come into being and which can be recognized in it as its 
unmistakable characteristics. 

Misapprehension of this is only possible if, attempting a 
one-sided approach to the phenomenon of the origin of the 
Christian Church, we try to reconstruct the facts solely by 
the methods of scholarship and out of the material afforded by 
the staled feelings and blunted sensibility of our present-day 
artificial civilization and complex mentality. It would be an 
advantage if, in addition to these methods, an attempt were 
made to frame a less abstract intuition of the genesis of 
original and genuine religious communities with the aid of 
living instances of the thing as it may still be found to-day. 
It would be necessary for this to seek places and moments 
at which even to-day religion shows itself alive as a naive 

*/ t5 

emotional force, with all its primal quality of impulse and 
instinct. This can still be studied in remote corners of the 
Mohammedan and Indian world. Even to-day one may come 
upon scenes in the streets of Mogador or Marrakesh, which 
have the strangest outward resemblance to those recorded by 
the Synoptic Gospels : holy men (and very queer specimens 
they generally are !) now and then make their appearance, 
each the centre of a group of disciples, and about them the people 
come and go, listening to their sayings, looking at their miracles, 
observing how they live and what they do. Bands of adherents 
gather round them, more loosely or more closely united as the 
case may be. Logia , tales, and legends form and accumulate ; l 
new brotherhoods arise or, if already arisen, extend in widen- 

1 It is astonishing that the main problem of Gospel criticism, viz. how 
the collection of* Logia arose, is not studied in this still living milieu. 
It is even more astonishing that the logia-series were not long ago 
elucidated from the closely corresponding milieu of the Sayings of the 
Fathers (airotyiypara TW irarfpw), from the Hadith of Muhammed, or 
from the Franciscan legends. And a particular striking case of the same 
thing is the collection of the Logia of Kama-Krishna, which has grown 
to completion in our own day and under our very eyes. 



ing circles. But the centre of it all is always the man himself, 
a holy man in his lifetime, and what sustains the movement 
is always the peculiar power of his personality, the special 
impression he makes on the bystander. Those who should know 
assure us that ninety-eight per cent, of these * holy men are 
impostors ; but, even so, we are left with two per cent, who are 
not, a surprisingly high percentage in the case of a matter that 
invites and facilitates imposture as much as this does. The 
consideration of this remaining two per cent, should continue to 
throw much light on the actual fact of the genesis of a reli 
gious community. The point is that the holy man or the 
prophet is from the outset, as regards the experience of the 
circle of his devotees, something more than a mere man 
(^iXoy avQpto-rros). He is the being of wonder and mystery, 
who somehow or other is felt to belong to the higher order of 
things, to the side of the numen itself. It is not that he 
himself teaches that he is such, but that he is experienced as 
such. And it is only such experiences, which, while they may 
be crude enough and result often enough in self-deception, 
must at least be profoundly and strongly felt, that can give 
rise to religious communities. 

Such cases of contemporary religious movements afford 
after all a very inadequate analogy, far removed from that 
which occurred long ago in Palestine. Yet, if even these move 
ments are only made possible by the fact that men actually 
experience, or presume that they experience, veritable holiness 
in the personalities of individuals, how far more true must 
this not be of the early Christian community ! That this was 
so is attested directly by the whole spirit and the universal 
conviction of the early communities as a whole, so far as we 
can discern it in their modest records. And certain of the 
slighter touches in the Synoptic portrait of Jesus confirm the 
fact expressly in particular cases. We may instance here the 
narratives already referred to of Peter s haul of fishes (Luke 
v. 8), and of the centurion of Capernaum (Matt. viii. 8 ; Luke 
vii. 6), which point to spontaneous responses of feeling when the 
holy is directly encountered in experience. Especially apt in 
this connexion is the passage in Mark x. 32 : KCU T)V 


airrovs 6 Irjaovs KCLI tQanftovvTO, ot 5e a.Ko\ov6ovi>T? </>o- 
/SoOi ro ( and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed ; 
and as they followed, they were afraid ). This passage 
renders with supreme simplicity and force the immediate 
impression of the numinous that issued from the man 
Jesus, and no artistry of characterization could do it so 
powerfully as these few masterly and pregnant words. The 
later saying in John xx. 28 (the confession of Thomas, My 
Lord and my God ) may perhaps appear to us by contrast 
the utterance of a time too far-reaching in its formulations, and 
very far removed from the simplicity of the original experi 
ence of the disciples. And this passage in Mark may appeal 
to us all the more just because the living emotion here dis 
dains any precise formulation at all ; none the less does it 
contain the real roots of all later developments of Christology. 

Such intimations of the numinous impression made by Jesus 
upon those who knew him occur in the Gospel narrative only, 
as it were, incidentally to the main purpose of the narrator, 
who is scarcely interested in them, but absorbed rather in 
miracle- or other records. In our eyes their interest is all the 
greater, and we can fancy how numerous similar experiences 
must have been of which no trace survives in the records, just 
because there was no miracle to be told of in connexion with 
them and they were simply taken for granted by the narrator 
as a matter of course. 

To this place belong further the belief in Jesus supremacy 
over the demonic world and the tendency to legend that began 
to take effect from the start; the fact that his own relatives 
take him for a man possessed , an involuntary acknowledge 
ment of the numinous impression he made upon them ; and 
in an especial degree the conviction that breaks spontaneously 
upon the minds of his disciples as by a sudden impact, won not 
from his teaching but from the very experience of him, that 
he is the Messiah the bein^r who stood for the circle in 


which he moved as the numinous being par excellence. The 
experiential character of this belief in his Messiahship stands 
out clearly in Peter s first confession and Jesus answer to 
it (Matt. xvi. 15-17), Flesh and blood have not revealed it 

M 2 


unto thee, but my Father, which is in heaven. Jesus himself 
is astonished at Peter s confession, which shows that this was 
not learnt on authority, but found out by Peter himself, a 
genuine discovery, arising from the impression Jesus made 
upon him and the testimony borne to it in the depth of the 
mind, where no teaching of flesh and blood, or even of the 
word , can avail, but only my Father in heaven himself and 
without any intermediary. 

For this factor the mind s own witness to the impression 
is, it need hardly be said, an indispensable one. Without it 
all impression is without effect, or rather no impression 
could occur at all. Therefore, all doctrines of the c impression 
made by Christ are inadequate if they do not pay regard to this 
second element, which indeed is nothing but the mental pre 
disposition necessary for the experience of holiness, to wit, the 
category of the holy, potentially present in the spirit as a dim 
or obscure a priori cognition. Impress or impression , 
that is, presupposes something capable of receiving impres 
sions, and that is just what the mind is not, if in itself it is 
only a tabula rasa . In that richer sense in which we use the 
word here, we do not in fact mean by impression merely the 
impression which, in the theory of the Sensationalist school, 
is the psychical result of sense-perception and is left behind as 
a psychical trace or vestige of the percept. To be impressed by 
some one, in the sense we use the term here, means rather to 
cognize or recognize in him a peculiar significance and to 
humble oneself before it. And we maintain that this is only 
possible by an element of cognition, comprehension, and valua 
tion in one s own inner consciousness, that goes out to meet 
the outward presented fact, i. e. by the spirit within . In 
Schleiermacher s language the presentiment goes out to meet 
the revelation to which it belongs. Music can only be under 
stood by the musical person ; none but he receives an impres 
sion of it. And to every unique kind of real impression 
corresponds in the same way a unique and special sort of con 
geniality , if the word may be used in this special sense of 
a particular disposition or aptitude, akin to the object 
arousing the impression. Nemo audit verbum, nisi spiritu 


intus docente. l Once again let us recall the example of the 
beautiful. A beautiful thing can only make an impression 
as such, i. e. as signifying beauty, if and in so far as a man 
possesses in himself a priori the potentiality of framing a 
special standard of valuation, viz. aesthetic valuation. Such 
a disposition can only be understood as an original, obscure 
awareness and appreciation of the value of beauty itself. 
Because a man has this in him, or better, because he is capable 
of realizing it by training, he is able to recognize beauty in 
the particular given beautiful object that he encounters, to 
feel the correspondence of this object with the hidden standard 
of value within him. And so, and only so, will he get an 
1 impression . 

1 Cf. Luther s remark that only he who is verbo conformis under 
stands the Word, and cf. Augustine, Confessions, x. 6, 20. 


THE question whether the primitive Church did or could 
experience holiness in the person of Christ, which we can but 
answer in the affirmative, is not so important to us as the 
question whether we too to-day can still do so. Has the 
portrayal of Christ s life, his actions and achievement, as pre 
served and handed down by the Christian Church, the value and 
power of a revelation for us to-day, or do we in this matter but 
live upon the inheritance bequeathed us by the first community 
of Christians and base our faith on the authority and testimony 
of others ? There would be no hope of answering this question, 
were it not that in us too that inner divining power of appre 
hension and interpretation which has already been considered 
may find a place that witness of the spirit, only possible on the 
basis of a mental predisposition to recognize the holy * and to 
respond to it. If without this no understanding and no impres 
sion of Christ was possible even to the first disciples, of what 
avail should any tradition be that requires the mediation of 
generations of Christian men? But if we may make this assump 
tion of a predisposing inner witness of the Spirit as we must 
the matter is very different. In that case there is no harm 
even in the fact that the records of Christ s life are fragmentary, 
that they contain manifold uncertainties, that they are inter 
mingled with legendary and overlaid with Hellenistic elements. 
For the Spirit knows and recognizes what is of the Spirit. 

As evidence of the way in which this inward principle 
this co-witnessing spirit within us works, prompting, inter 
preting, and sending out intimation and surmise, I have found 
the information of a keenly observant missionary from a 
remote field very instructive. He told me that he had found 
it a constant matter for fresh astonishment to see how a pre- 


sentment of the Word so inadequate which could only hint 
at its meaning in a difficult foreign tongue and had to work 
with alien conceptions could yet at times win so surprisingly 
deep and inward an acceptance. And he said that here too 
the best results always were due to the responsive apprehen 
sion that came out of the hearer s heart half-way to meet the 
presented truth. Certainly it is only in this fact that we have 
a clue to the understanding of the problem of St. Paul. Perse 
cutor of the Church as he was, the intimations he had of the 
being and meaning of Christ and his Gospel must have come 
to him piecemeal, in fragmentary hints and caricature. But 
the spirit from within forced upon him the acknowledgement 
to which he succumbed on the way to Damascus. It taught 
him that infinitely profound understanding of the Christ made 
manifest which has led a critic like Wellhausen to confess 
that, when all is said, no man has understood Christ himself 
so deeply and thoroughly as Paul. 

If, no\v, the experience of holiness and the holy in Christ 
is still to be possible and so afford support to our faith, one 
thing is evidently to be presupposed at the outset, namely, 
that his own most immediate and primary achievement and 
intention can be directly understood and appraised in our 
experience, so that out of this may grow the impression of 
his holiness with a like directness. And here a difficulty 
seems to confront us, which has to be removed if the entire 
problem is not to be barred from the start. It is this : is that 
which we to-day think we find in the person of Christ and in 
Christianity at bottom at all the same as that which he really 
intended to achieve and that which the first community of his 
disciples found in him? In other words, has Christianity 
really a principle of its own, which, however capable of 
historical evolution, yet remains unchanged in essence, so that 
the Christianity of to-day may be measured against the faith 
of the first disciples and awarded a rank essentially the 
same ? 

Is Christianity at all and in a strict sense Jesus religion ? 
That is, is the religion we know to-day as Christianity, with 
its peculiar and unique content of belief and feeling, standing 


in all its historic greatness and supremacy when measured 
against other religions, with all its power to-day over the 
hearts and consciences of men to elevate or to excite, to launch 
accusation or confer benediction, to attract or to repel is this 
religion still in its essence and inner meaning the same thing 
as the simple, unpretentious religion and form of piety which 
Jesus himself had, which he himself aroused and founded 
in the circle of those little, heart-stirred bands of men in 
that out-of-the-way corner of the world, Galilee ? It must be 
generally agreed that it has at least changed its form and its 
colour very significantly since those days, and that it has been 
exposed to violent alterations and metamorphoses. But is 
there any abiding essence, any enduring principle at all 
behind all the sequence of its manifestations, susceptible of 
evolution and development, but remaining one and the same 
throughout 1 ? Is it a case of development and evolution, or 
rather merely of continual transmutation, the influx of some 
thing quite different, which one man laments as a perversion, 
a second admires as a welcome substitution, and a third 
merely records as a simple historical fact ? 

Christianity, as it stands before us to-day in present 
actuality as a great world religion , is indubitably, so far as 
its claim and promise go, in the first and truest sense a reli 
gion of Redemption. Its characteristic ideas to-day are 
Salvation overabounding salvation, deliverance from and 
conquest of the world and from existence in bondage to the 
world, and even from creaturehood as such, the overcoming of 
the remoteness of and enmity to God, redemption from servi 
tude to sin and the guilt of sin, reconciliation and atonement, 
and, in consequence, grace and all the doctrine of grace, the 
Spirit and the bestowal of the Spirit, the new birth and the 
new creature. These conceptions are common to Christendom, 
despite the manifold cleavages that divide it into different 
confessions, churches, and sects, and they characterize it 
sharply and definitely as a religion of redemption par excel 
lence, setting it in this respect on a level with the great reli 
gions of the East, with their sharp, dualistic antithesis of the 
state of liberation and bondage, nay, justifying its claim not to 


fall short of these in regard to the necessity of redemption 
and the grant of salvation, but to surpass them, both in the 
importance it gives to these conceptions and in the richness of 
meaning it finds in them. It cannot be doubted that here, in 
these elements, is to be found the inner principle and essence 
of contemporary Christianity to-day, and what we have to ask 
is whether the wealth of mental and emotional content was in 
very truth the principle of that plain religion of Jesus long 
a^o, whose establishment must be termed the first and most 


immediate achievement of Christ. 

In answering this question in the affirmative, we would 
point to a parable which, intended to have reference to the 
kingdom of God, fits the principle of Christianity equally well: 
the parable of the grain of mustard seed and the tree that 
grew therefrom. This parable hints at a change and altera 
tion, for the grown tree is something different from the seed, 
but an alteration that is no transformation, no transmutation 
or epigenesis , but genuine evolution or development, the 
transition from potentiality to actuality. 

The religion of Jesus does not change gradually into 
a religion of redemption ; it is in its whole design and ten 
dency a religion of redemption from its earliest commencement, 
and that in the most uncompromising sense. Though it lacks 
the theological terms which the Church later possessed, its 
redemptive character is manifest and unambiguous. If we 
try to determine as simply and concisely as possible what 
really characterized the message of Jesus, ignoring what was 
historically inessential, we are left with two central elements : 
(1) First, there is the proclamation of the kingdom of God, as no 
mere accessory, but the foundation of the whole Gospel. This 
is characteristic of His ministry from the beginning and 
throughout its course. (2) Second, there is the reaction against 
Phariseeism, and, in connexion with this, Jesus ideal of godli 
ness as the attitude and mind of a child when its fault has 
been forgiven. But both points comprise in principle every 
thing which later became separately formulated in the specifi 
cally redemptive doctrines of Christianity : Grace, Election, 
the Holy Ghost, and Renewal by the Spirit. These were 


possessed by and experienced by that first group of disciples 
as truly as by any later Christians, though in an implicit 
form. A closer consideration may make this more plain. 

To speak of a religion of redemption is, one may say, to 
be guilty of a redundancy, at any rate if we are considering 
the more highly developed forms of religion. For every such 
religion, when once it has won its autonomy and freed itself 
from dependent reference to an ideal of merely worldly wel 
fare (f^Saifjiovia), whether private or public, develops in 
itself unique and overabounding ideals of beatitude which 
may be designated by the general term salvation . Such a 
salvation is the goal to which the evolution of Indian reli 
gions has tended ever more markedly and consciously, from 
their beginning with the notion of deification of theUpanishad- 
Pantheism on to the bliss-state of the Buddhist Nirvana, 
which, as we have seen (p. 39), is negative only in appearance. 
It is also the goal of the religions of redemption , specifically so 
called, which spread with such vigour over the civilized world 
from Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor about the beginning of 
our era. Further, it is obvious to an examination sharpened 
by the comparative study of religions that the same tendency 
to salvation is operative also in the vesture of eschatology 
that gives form to the religion of Persia. Islam, too, embodies 
the longing for and the experience of salvation. In this 
case salvation is not simply in the hope of the joys of 
Paradise : rather the most vital element in Islam is Islam 
itself, i. e. that surrender to Allah which is not merely the 
dedication of the will to him, but also at the same time the 
entering upon the Allah state of mind here and now, 
the object of longing and striving, a frame of mind which is 
already salvation , and which may possess and enrapture 
the man like an intoxication and can give rise to a mystic 
transport of bliss. 

But if the idea of salvation thus lies at the base of all 
higher religion everywhere, it is manifested quite unmistakably 
and in supreme fashion, both in intensity and intrinsic purity, 
in the Kingdom of Heaven of Christianity, which is at once 
a tenet of faith, an object of desire, and a present experience. 


It is quite immaterial whether this thought in ancient Israel 
issued from purely political considerations, only gradually 
rising above the ground of mere fact, till it finally was exalted 
to a transcendent meaning, or whether there were from the 
first authentic religious motives at work to shape and develop 
it. All this is beside the point, inasmuch as the materials by 
which the religious impulse works are very frequently at first 
of an unspiritual, earthly nature. It is just the unresting 
activity and continual urgency of this impulsion, enabling it 
to attain to freedom and press onward and upward to ever 
higher levels of development, it is just this that manifests 
it most characteristically, and reveals best its inner essential 
being. And this is nothing else than the pure impulsion 
to redemption, and the pre-intimation and anticipation of a 
boded good , transcendent and wholly other , a salvation 
comparable to those salvations striven after in other reli 
gions, but supreme above them in the measure in which the 
Lord of the Kingdom found and possessed in the Christian 
experience is supreme above Brahma, Vishnu, Ormuzd, Allah, 
as also above the Absolute in the form of Nirvana, Kaivalyam, 
Tao, or whatever other name it may be given. So redemp 
tion is throughout the purport of the gospel even in its first 
and simplest form, a redemption which is both to be fulfilled 
by God hereafter and yet at the same time already experienced 
here and now. In the former aspect it comes as the assured 
promise of the Kingdom of God ; in the latter, by the present 
experience of His fatherhood, instilled by the Gospel into the 
soul of the disciple as his most intimate possession. That the 
early Christians were conscious of this as something entirely 
novel and unheard of and exceeding all measure (a good news), 
is seen in the saying of Jesus that the Law and the Prophets 
were until John: since that time the gospel of the kingdom of 
God is preached (Luke xvi. 16), in which John the Baptist, 
who also preached a Kingdom of God , is yet classed with 
1 the Law and the Prophets . 

But to describe this novelty most truly and concisely it 
would be necessary to invent the saying of Paul (Romans viii. 
15), did it not already stand written : 


* For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to 
fear ; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we 
cry, Abba, Father/ 

Here Paul has penetrated to the heart of the matter, 
breaking definitely with the older religion and seizing un 
erringly upon the very principle and essence of the new. And 
this principle and essence was the same for the first fisher 
men by the Lake of Galilee and has remained one and the 
same throughout the whole history of Christianity. With it 
is given the new attitude to Sin and Guilt, to Law and to 
Freedom, and, in principle, Justification , Second Birth , 
Renewal , the bestowal of the Spirit, new creation, and the 
blissful freedom of God s children. It was inevitable that 
these or similar expressions and doctrines and the profound 
speculation to which they would give rise should make their 
appearance when the Word called to the Spirit responsive to it. 1 

And so Christ s first and direct work and achievement, as 
we can clearly understand it to-day, is the effectual bestowal 
of salvation as future hope and present possession by 
arousing a faith in his God and in the Kingdom of God. 

And now how can Divination, in respect to such work of 
Christ, awake in us also, in us who stand so remote in time 
from him 1 ? How can we, too, come to experience in him 
holiness made manifest ? 

Obviously not through demonstration and proof, by apply 
ing some conceptual rule. We cannot suggest any conceptual 
criterion in the form : When the elements x and y are brought 
together, a revelation results. It is just this impossibility 
which makes us speak of divination , intuitive apprehen 
sion . The experience must come, not by demonstration, but 
by pure contemplation, through the mind submitting itself 
unreservedly to a pure impression of the object. For this 
purpose all that was given and contained in the message and 
work of Jesus must be combined with the picture of his person 
and life and viewed as a whole and in its context with the 

1 We can even comprehend thereby the later influx of dualistic or 
gnostic currents, or at least see how they became possible. A man like 
Marcion is an extreme Jesu-ist as well as an extreme Paul-ist . 


long and wonderful advance in the religious history of Israel 
and Judah that was the preparation for it, and with the inter 
play of diverse tributary lines of development which, even where 
apparently divergent, ultimately converged upon this as their 
single culmination. Account must be taken of the elements 


of fulfilment which the Gospel contains, and due heed given 
to the attraction and impelling force which it owed to its 
contrast with its Judaic environment or to parallels which it 
bore to this. And all the while, for the full impression to be 
received, regard is to bo paid to the non-rational, the woof of 
the web, the strange setting of the whole experience, which 
can nowhere be felt so palpably as in the case of Jesus Christ ; 
how his effect upon the men of his own day rises and ebbs, 
revealing his spiritual content, on which the salvation of the 
world depends, ever more and more manifestly, and revealing at 
the same time that mysteriously growing opposition of powers 
in which the problem of Job recurs a thousandfold more 
urgently where we have the suffering and the defeat not 
merely of a righteous person, but of all that is most vitally 
important for the highest interests of humanity. In fine there 
is that burden of non-rational, mystical significance, which 
hangs like a cloud over Golgotha. Whoever can thus immerse 
himself in contemplation and open his whole mind resolutely to 
a pure impression of all this combined will surely find growing 
in him, obedient to an inward standard that defies expression, 
the pure feeling of recognition of holiness , the intuition of 
the eternal in the temporal . If something eternal, something 
holy, ever results from the blending and interpenetration of 
rational and non-rational, purposive and indefinable elements 
in the way we tried to describe, in the person of Jesus this 
stands as nowhere else potently and palpably apparent. 

And in a very real sense we of the later day are not worse 
but more fortunately placed for grasping it than Jesus own 
contemporaries. Realization of him through surmise (Ahn- 
duny) of the divine government of the world l depends essen 
tially upon two factors. On the one hand there is the gene 
ral view of the marvellous spiritual history of Israel as a 

1 An expression of De Wette. (v. p. 150.) 


connected whole, with its prophetic and religious development, 
and with Christ appearing as its culmination. And on the 
other hand there is the complete life-work and achievement of 
Christ himself in its entirety. Now in both cases a general 
comprehensive view is more perfectly to be attained by us 
to-day than in the time of Christ ; for, not only is our histori 
cal insight more keen, but we can also see the whole in better 
perspective at our greater distance. Whoever sinks in con 
templation of that great connected development of the Judaic 
religion which we speak of as the old covenant up to Christ 
must feel the stirrings of an intimation that something Eternal 
is there, directing and sustaining it and urging it to its 
consummation. The impression is simply irresistible. And 
whoever then goes on to consider how greatly the scene is set 
for the completion of the whole story and the mighty stature 
of the personality that is its fulfilment, his firm, unfaltering 
hold upon God, his unwavering, unfailing righteousness, his 
certitude of conviction and assurance in action so mysterious 
and profound, his spiritual fervour and beatitude, the struggles 
and trustfulness, self-surrender and suffering, and finally the 
conqueror s death that were his whoever goes on to consider 
all this must inevitably conclude : * That is god-like and 
divine ; that is verily Holiness. If there is a God and if He 
chose to reveal himself, He could do it no otherwise than thus. 

Such a conclusion is not the result of logical compulsion ; it 
does not follow from clearly conceived premisses ; it is an 
immediate, underivable judgement of pure recognition, and it 
follows a premiss that defies exposition and springs directly 
from an irreducible feeling of the truth. But that, as we have 
seen, is just the manner in which genuine divination, in the 
sense of an intuition of religious significance, takes place. 

Such an intuition, once granted, issues, for us no less than 
for the first disciples, necessarily and independently of exege 
sis or the authority of the early Church, in a series of further 
intuitions respecting the Person, the Work, and the Words of 
Christ, and it is the task of theology to render these explicit. 
Such are the intuitions gained of sacred history in general, 
of its preparation in prophecy, and of its fulfilment in Jesus 


Messiahship the Being in whom all the religious potentiali 
ties of prophet and psalmist and all the anticipatory move 
ments and currents in the old covenant became actualized, 
in whom all previous development found its culmination, and 
the evolution of a people at once its real significance and its 
goal, the completion of its course and the consummation of its 
allotted historical task. And there are further intuitions 
which have the same origin : the intuition by which we recog 
nize in Christ the portrayal and presentment of God, divining 
in his agony and victory, his redemptive search and love, the 
very stamp and signature of God ; the intuition of his Son- 
ship , by which we recognize Christ as the only Begotten , 
the called, the fully empowered with deity, as one whose 
being, only made possible and intelligible of God, repeats and 
reveals the divine nature in human fashion ; or the intuition 
of the new covenant , of adoption and reconciliation through 
Christ, of his life-work and self-surrender to God as sacrih ce 
and as a warrant of divine grace. And last, not least, the 
intuition of the covering and propitiating Mediator. For 
the abyss between creature and Creator, profanum and 
1 sanctum , sin and holiness, is not diminished but increased by 
that deeper knowledge that comes from the Gospel of Christ : 
and, as a result of the emotion spontaneously stirred in the 
recognition of it, that in which the holy stands self-revealed 
is taken here, as in other cases, both as the refuge from, and 
the means by which to approach, Holiness. And this impul 
sion of the mind to see in Christ mediator and propitiator may 
be roused to seek expression spontaneously, even in cases 
where it is not, as in Hebrew and primitive religion, pre 
pared for and sustained by a traditional cult and mysticism of 
4 sacrifice . That is, it is a natural religious instinct, due to 
the pressure of the numinous experience and to nothing else. 

We are not, then, to deplore the fact that intuitions of this 
kind find a place in the doctrines of the Christian faith : they 
do so of necessity. What we must deplore is, that their free 
character, as springing from divination , is so generally mis 
interpreted ; that too commonly we dogmatize and theorize 
about them, deducing them from * necessary truths of exegesis 


or dogma (which are in fact always dubious), and so failing 
to recognize them for what they are, free-floating utterances 
and trial nights at expression of the numinous feeling ; and 
that too often we give them an emphasis which puts them 
unwarrantably at the centre of our religious interest, a place 
which nothing but the experience itself of God ought to 

In this connexion we may draw attention to what are com 
monly called the miracles of Christ, but which we may per 
haps more aptly call, in the words of Mark xvi. 20, signs 
following (tiraKoXovOovvra 0-rjfj.eLa). It is not upon them 
primarily that the experience of holiness made manifest is 
based ; but, where there has been real divination , there cer 
tain traits in the portrait of Christ come to acquire a fresh 
significance, as confirmation of the divination rather than its 
ground. I refer to the signs of exalted spiritual power over 
nature to be detected in the portrait of Jesus. These have 
their parallels elsewhere in the history of religion: in the 
great prophets of Israel, for instance, they are shown in the 
form of that visionary intuition and boding foreknowledge 
with which the prophet was endowed for his calling. In the 
life of Christ they recur unmistakably as gifts of the Spirit , 
raised to a supreme power. These things are not miracles , 
for they are powers of the spirit, and so are as natural as our 
will itself is, with its control over our body. But they clearly 
only come upon the scene where the spirit is itself exalted 
to its fullest stature and in its fullest vitality, and are most 
of all to be expected where the spirit is in closest and most 
intimate union with its eternal cause and foundation, and is 
thereby set free to the highest it can itself achieve. 1 

It is, in the last place, clear that it is in the Passion and 
death of Christ that the objects of the strongest religious intui 
tion must be sought. If his Incarnation, his mission, and the 
manner of his Hie come to be considered as a piece of self- 
revelation, in which an eternal Will of Love is mirrored, before 
all else is this Love and Faith seen accomplished in the Passion. 
The Cross becomes in an absolute sense the mirror of the 
1 See further Appendix VII. 


eternal Father (speculum aeterni Patris); and not of the 
1 Father alone the highest rational interpretation of the 
holy but of Holiness as such. For what makes Christ 
in a special sense the summary and climax of the course 
of antecedent religious evolution is pre-eminently this that 
in his life, suffering, and death is repeated in classic and abso 
lute form that most mystical of all the problems of the Old 
Covenant, the problem of the guiltless suffering of the righteous, 
which re-echoes again and again so mysteriously from Jere 
miah and deutero-Isaiah on through Job and the Psalms. The 
38lh chapter of Job is a prophecy of Golgotha. And on Gol 
gotha the solution of the problem, already adumbrated in Job, 
is repeated and surpassed. It lay, as we saw, entirely in the 
non-rational aspect of deity, and yet was none the less a 
solution. In Job the suffering of the righteous found its 
significance as the classic and crucial case of the revelation, 
more immediately actual and in more palpable proximity than 
any other, of the transcendent mysteriousness and beyond- 
ness of God. The Cross of Christ, that monogram of the 
eternal mystery, is its completion. Here rational are enfolded 
with non-rational elements, the revealed commingled with the 
unrevealed, the most exalted love with the most awe-inspiring 
wrath of the numen, and therefore, in applying to the Cross of 
Christ the category holy , Christian religious feeling has 
given birth to a religious intuition profounder and more vital 
than any to be found in the whole history of religion. 

This is what must be borne in mind in the comparison of 
religions, when we seek to decide which of them is the most 
perfect. The criterion of the value of a religion as religion 
cannot ultimately be found in what it has done for culture, 
nor in its relation to the limits of the reason or the limits 
of humanity (which, forsooth, are presumed capable of being 
drawn in advance apart from reference to religion itself !), nor 
in any of its external features. It can only be found in what 
is the innermost essence of religion, the idea of holiness as 
such, and in the degree of perfection with which any given 
religion realizes this. 

There can naturally be no defence of the worth and validity 



of such religious intuitions of pure feeling that will convince 
a person who is not prepared to take the religious conscious 
ness itself for granted. Mere general argument, even moral 
demonstrations, are in this case useless, are indeed for obvious 
reasons impossible from the outset. On the other hand the 
criticisms and confutations attempted by such a person are un 
sound from the start. His weapons are far too short to touch 
his adversary, for the assailant is always standing right out 
side the arena ! But if these intuitions, these separate responses 
to the impress upon the spirit of the Gospel story and the 
central Person of it if these intuitions are immune from 
rational criticism, they are equally unaffected by the fluctuat 
ing results of biblical exegesis and the laboured justifications 
of historical apologetics. For they are possible without these, 
springing, as they do, from first-hand personal divination. * 

1 Compare with this chapter my recently published book Reich Gottes 
tind Menschensohn. 



WE have considered the holy on the one hand as an 
a priori category of mind, and on the other as manifesting 
itself in outward appearance. The contrast here intended is 
exactly the same as the common contrast of inner and outer, 
general and special revelation. And if we take reason* 
(ratio) as an inclusive term for all cognition which arises in 
the mind from principles native to it, in contrast to those 
based upon facts of history, then we may say that the distinc 
tion between holiness as an a priori category and holiness as 
revealed in outward appearance is much the same as that 
between * reason (in this wide sense) and history. 

Every religion which, so far from being a mere faith in 
traditional authority, springs from personal assurance and 
inward convincement (i. e. from an inward first-hand cognition 
of its truth) as Christianity does in a unique degree must 
presuppose principles in the mind enabling it to be indepen 
dently recognized as true. 1 But these principles must be 
a priori ones, not to be derived from experience or history . 
It has little meaning, however edifying it may sound, to say 
that they are inscribed upon the heart by the pencil of the 
Holy Spirit in history . For whence comes the assurance 
that it was the pencil of the Holy Spirit that wrote, and 
not that of a deceiving spirit of imposture, or of the tribal 
fantasy of anthropology? Such an assertion is itself a 

1 The attestation of such principles is the testimoniura Spiritus Sancti 
internum of which we have already spoken. And this must clearly be 
itsr-lf immediate and self-warranted, else there would be need of another 
witness of the Holy Spirit to attest the truth of the first, and BO on ad 

N 2 


presumption that it is possible to distinguish the signature of 
the Spirit from others, and thus that we have an a priori 
notion of what is of the Spirit independently of history. 

And there is a further consideration. There is something 
presupposed by history as such not only the history of mind 
or spirit, with which we are here concerned which alone 
makes it history, and that is the existence of a quale, some 
thing with a potentiality of its own, capable of becoming, in 
the special sense of coming to be that to which it was predis 
posed and predetermined. An oak-tree can become, and thus 
have a sort of history ; whereas a heap of stones cannot. 
The random addition and subtraction, displacement and 
rearrangement, of elements in a mere aggregation can certainly 
be followed in narrative form, but this is not in the deeper 
sense a historical narrative. We only have the history of a 
people in proportion as it enters upon its course equipped with 
an endowment of talents and tendencies ; it must already be 
something if it is really to become anything. And biography 
is a lamentable and unreal business in the case of a man who 
has no real unique potentiality of his own, no special idiosyn 
crasy, and is therefore a mere point of intersection for various 
fortuitous causal series, acted upon, as it were, from without. 
Biography is only a real narration of a real life where, by the 
interplay of stimulus and experience on the one side and pre 
disposition and natural endowment on the other, something 
individual and unique comes into being, which is therefore 
neither the result of a mere self-unfolding nor yet the sum 
of mere traces and impressions, written from without from 
moment to moment upon a tabula rasa . In short, to pro 
pose a history of mind is to presuppose a mind or spirit 
determinately qualified ; to profess to give a history of reli 
gion is to presuppose a spirit specifically qualified for religion. 
There are, then, three factors in the process by which reli 
gion comes into being in history. First, the interplay of pre 
disposition and stimulus, which in the historical development of 
man s mind actualizes the potentiality in the former, and at the 
same time helps to determine its form. Second, the groping re 
cognition, by virtue of this very disposition, of specific portions 


of history as the manifestation of the holy , with consequent 
modification of the religious experience already attained both 
in its quality and degree. And third, on the basis of the 
other two, the achieved fellowship with the holy in knowing, 
feeling, and willing. Plainly, then, Religion is only the off 
spring of history in so far as history on the one hand develops 
our disposition for knowing the holy, and on the other is 
itself repeatedly the manifestation of the holy. * Natural 
religion, in contrast to historical, does not exist, and still less 
does * innate religion. 1 

A priori cognitions are not such as every one does have 
such would be innate cognitions but such as every one 
is capable of having. The loftier a priori cognitions are 
such as while every one is indeed capable of having them 
do not, as experience teaches us, occur spontaneously, but 
rather are awakened through the instrumentality of other 
more highly endowed natures. In relation to these the universal 
predisposition is merely a faculty of receptivity and a principle 
of judgement and acknowledgement, not a capacity to pro 
duce the cognitions in question for oneself independently. 
This latter capacity is confined to those specially endowed . 
And this endowment is the universal disposition on a higher 
level and at a higher power, differing from it in quality as 
well as in degree. The same thing is very evident in the 
sphere of art : what appears in the multitude as mere recep- 
tiveness, the capacity of response and judgement by trained 
aesthetic taste, reappears at the level of the artist as invention, 
creation, composition, the original production of genius. This 
difference of level and power, e.g. in musical composition, seen 
in the contrast between what is a mere capacity for musical 
experience and the actual production and revelation of music, 
is obviously something more than a difference of degree. It is 
very similar in the domain of the religious consciousness, reli 
gious production and revelation. Here, too, most men have 
only the predisposition , in the sense of a receptiveness and 
susceptibility to religion and a capacity for freely recognizing 

1 For the distinction between innate and a priori, cf. R. Otto, 
Religionsphilosophie, p. 42. 


and judging religious truth at first hand. The Spirit is only 
universal in the form of the * testimoniumSpiritus internum 
(and this again only * ubi ipsi visumfuit ). The higher stage, 
not to be derived from the first stage of mere receptivity, is in 
the sphere of religion the prophet. The prophet corresponds in 
the religious sphere to the creative artist in that of art : he is 
the man in whom the Spirit shows itself alike as the power to 
hear the voice within and the power of divination, and in 
each case appears as a creative force. Yet the prophet does 
not represent the highest stage. We can think of a third, yet 
higher, beyond him, a stage of revelation as underivable from 
that of the prophet as was his from that of common men. We 
can look, beyond the prophet, to one in whom is found the 
Spirit in all its plenitude, and who at the same time in his 
person and in his performance is become most completely the 
object of divination, in whom Holiness is recognized apparent. 
Such a one is more than Prophet. He is the Son. 



BUT that is an impertinence to say that He who is beyond the 
apprehension of even the higher Powers can be comprehended by 
us earthworms, or compassed and comprised by the weak forces of 
our understanding ! 

This protest of Chrysostom occurs at the beginning of the third 
of his five discourses -rrepi aKaraXiJTrTov (Dc Incomprchensibili}, which 
were directed against the avo /uoioi who were perverting the 
Christian community of Antioch, and more especially against 
disciples of the Arian Aetios, with their doctrine Otov oTSa is auros 
6 #cos tavrov olB( ( I know God as He is known to Himself). Our 
histories of Dogma do not generally say much, if anything, upon 
these sermons of Chrysostom, and their contribution to dogmatics 
is not indeed very important. But their interest for the psycho 
logy of religion is all the greater ; and this would still remain, 
even if they had not contained the passages bearing upon Christo- 
logy , which begin at the conclusion of the fourth sermon. For 
we have in them the primary promptings of genuine religious 
feeling in its specifically numinous character, excited to a passionate 
intensity and directed with all the charm and eloquence of the 
Golden-mouthed against the theoretical Aristotelian God of 
the schools. All that is non-rational in the feeling of God is 
here in conflict with what is rational and capable of rationalization 
and threatens to break loose from it altogether. 

A strange spectacle! Fordoes not the distinguishing character 
of Christianity consist in just this that God is near us, that we 
can possess and apprehend Him, and that man himself is His 
image and likeness ? And yet we find this Father of the Church 
battling passionately, as for something that concerned the very 
essence of Christianity, for the view that God is the Inconceiv 
able, the Inexpressible, that which gives denial to every notion. 
And this he does not do on speculative grounds, with the aid of 
the terms and phrases of any school of theology ; it is rather a 


sort of instinct in him that guides him with astonishing assurance 
and accuracy to track out and collect the most wonderful texts of 
Scripture, so that their full weight becomes felt, as his profoundly 
penetrating interpretation explains and applies them. 

First and chiefly he takes his stand against Conceiving and 
Comprehension in general, against the idea of TO KaraXrjTTTov, and 
against the oucetoi Aoyioyxoi (i. e. constructions of the understanding) 
which seek to delimit and circumscribe God (-n-tpiypafaLv, TreptAa/x- 
ySdvciv). For his opponents had maintained that a conceptual know 
ledge of God is possible, definitive and exhaustive, by means of 
notions, in fact by a single notion (viz. of dyew^o-t a, unbegottenness), 
in a word, that it is possible to know God exactly (/ACT d/cpi/3ei as 
eioYvcu). * But we, says Chrysostom, * in opposition to this view, 
call Him TOV dveK<pacrTOV, TOV aTTfpivorjTOV 6eov, TOV dopaTOV, TOV 
AT/TTTOV, TOV vt/cuWa yX(t)TTr)<; BvvafUV avOp<aTrivr)<s, TOV virepfiaivovra 
Siavoi as KaTaAi^tv, TOV avf^t^VLao TOV dyyeAois, TOV d$earov ToZs 
TOV a.Ka.Tav6r)Tov TOIS XcpovfiLfj,, TOV doparov ap^cus covo-t cus Suva/xecriv, 
KCU aTrAoijs Traarf) rrj KTUTCI. l (Migne, p. 721.) He insults God who 
seeks to apprehend His essential being (v/Jpi 8e 6 TT;V ova-Lav 
avTov Trepiepya^o /xevo?, 714 e), he says, and goes on to urge that God 
is incomprehensible even in His works how much more in His 
own essential nature ; even in His demeanings (o-vy*aTa/?ao-eis) 
how much more in His own transcendent majesty ; even to the 
Cherubim and Seraphim how much more to mere humanity 

The dfcaTaA^TTTov in this sense is for Chrysostom primarily the 
* exceeding greatness of God, which escapes our mental grasp and 
compass because of the dorfcVcta TOJV Aoyur/xaiv, the over-short reach 
of our faculty of conception. We call it incomprehensibility , 
and distinguish from it the inapprehensibility which springs, 
not from the exceeding greatness , but from the wholly other 
ness of God (Odrcpov TOV Ociov), from what is alien and remote in 
Him, from what we have called the * mysterium stupendum . 
And it is instructive to see how for Chrysostom too this latter 
sense of dKaTaA^TTTov passes into the former, sometimes blending 
with it, sometimes plainly distinguished as something beyond and 

1 We call Him the inexpressible, the unthinkable God, the invisible, 
the inapprehensible ; who quells the power of human speech and tran 
scends the grasp of mortal thought ; inaccessible to the angels, unbeheld 
of the Seraphim, unimagined of the Cherubim, invisible to rules and 
authorities and powers, and, in a word, to all creation. 


higher than it. We have said already that we have the experi 
ence of the wholly other , where we come upon something 
which not merely overtops our every concept, but astounds us 
by its absolute and utter difference from our whole nature. 
Chrysostom similarly contrasts the avOp^irirq <vo-is with the 6tla 
<vW as being incommensurable with it, and therefore incapable 
of understanding it, and his words refer not only to the narrow 
ness and meagreness of our understanding, but just to this sheer 
difference in quality of the * wholly other . 

This sort of apostrophe is common with him : "AvflpuTros &v 6tov 

Tro\vTrpa.yfjiovtiS j Apxct yap TO. oi o/iara \ptXa TTJS dyota? $(la.L TIJV 
VTrepfioXi jv avOpwrros yjj KOL OTTToSos VTrdp^djv, a-up Kol cu/xa, ^d/yros /ecu 
avOos \6prov, <TKIO. Kal /caTrvos Kai /laTcudrr/s (712). 1 And the same 

note sounds even more clearly in an exposition of Komans ix. 20, 
21 (715). As little as the clay can master or comprehend the 
potter because of its essential difference from him, even so little 
can man comprehend God. * Or rather, far less, for man the 
potter is in the end himself but clay. But the difference between 
the being of God and the being of man is of such a kind that no 
word can express it and no thought appraise it. His position is 
put more unmistakably still in the following passage : 

He dwells, says St. Paul, in an unapproachable light. 2 Observe 
here the exactitude of St. Paul s expression. . . . For he says not 
merely in an incomprehensible, but (what conveys far more) in an 
altogether " unapproachable " light. We say "inconceivable " and 
"incomprehensible" of something which, though it eludes con 
ception, does not elude all inquiry and questioning. " Unap 
proachable ", on the other hand, means something which in 
principle excludes the very possibility of inquiry, which is quite 
inaccessible by conceptual investigation. A sea into which divers 
may plunge, but which they cannot fathom, would represent the 
merely " incomprehensible " (aKaroA^Trrov). It would only repre 
sent the " unapproachable " (a.7rp6cnTov) if it remained in principle 
beyond search and beyond discovery. (p. 721.) And so too in the 
fourth discourse (upon Eph. iii. 8) (p. 729) : Ti CO-TIV av^t^yiatrrov ; 

firj 8iW/zevov ^rjTr}Orjvai f ov JJLOVOV 8e /IT/ Svi dfjLfvov tvptOrjva.t, dAA* ov&k 

1 Dost thon, a man, presume to busy thyself with God ? Nay, the 
bare names (of man) suffice to show the extent of this fully ; man that ig 
earth and dust,Jlesh and blood, grass and the Jloicer of grass, shadowed 
smoke and raniti/. 

1 1 Tim. vi. 16 $d>c olnvv an^AtuTov. R.V. unapproachable . 


i.. ( l What is " unsearchable " ? To be beyond searching, 
that is, to be such as excludes not discovery only but also 

And this line of thought draws him imperceptibly farther. The 
bounds of the incomprehensible are extended, and the whole 
numinous consciousness is set astir in it, one element in the feel 
ing prompting to the others. The mysterium stupcndum passes 
directly over into mysterium tremendum and maicstas, so that we 
might entitle the Discourses, instead of De Incomprehensibili , 
1 De Numine ac Numinoso . 

Specially noticeable in this connexion is the passage in which 
Chrysostom brings clearly out the psychological distinction 
between numinous and merely rational wonder. He cites that 
truly significant text from Ps. cxxxix. 14, which runs in the 
Septuagint : * I praise Thee : for that Thou madest Thyself fearfully 
wondrous V and then gives a subtle analysis of the feelings there 

* What does " fearfully " mean here ? Many things move us to 
wonder in which there is nothing "fearful" the beauty of a 
colonnade, for example ; the beauty of pictures, or bodily loveli 
ness. Again, we wonder at the greatness of the sea and its 
measureless expanse, but terror and "fear" only seize upon us 
when we gaze down into its depths. So, too, here the Psalmist. 
When he gazes down into the immeasurable, yawning (agave s) 
Depth 2 of the divine Wisdom, dizziness comes upon him and he 
recoils in terrified wonder and cries : . . . "Thy knowledge is too 
wonderful for me ; it is high, above my power (I am too weak 
for it: LXX)." The dizziness and the unique feeling of the 
uncanny, which we have called stupor and tremor, are here clearly 
noted by Chrysostom. And he rightly cites also the profoundly 
numinous exclamation of St. Paul (Rom. xi. 33) : Dizzy before the 
unfathomable main and gazing down into its yawning depths, he 
recoils precipitately and cries aloud : " O the depth of the riches 
both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. . . . " (Migne, p. 705). 

The passage on page 733 should be read in close connexion 
with this. Nowhere has the awe and even the eerie shuddering 
and amazement at the supernatural been more vividly and truly 
recaptured in feeling, and nowhere has it been portrayed with 

(rot on ()ofpa>s f 

5 Reading puOos for the undoubtedly erroneous Trt 


a more gripping and constraining power. Expertus loquitur! 
This is the voice not of the Platonist or Neo-Platonist ; it is the 
voice of antiquity itself, typified in one who had found in Pagan 
ism and Judaism and Christianity alike those primal and ele 
mental experiences out of which all religion has arisen and 
without which no religion is worthy of the name, and who had 
made them his very own in all the force of growth sometimes 
rank and violent enough which originally characterized them. 
Chrysostom describes thus the experience of Dan. x. 5-8, and the 
state of ecstasy into which Daniel falls in his encounter with the 
Unseen : For just as happens when the charioteer looses hold of 
the reins in terror, so that the horses bolt and the chariot over 
turns, ... so it befell the Prophet. His affrighted soul could not 
bear the sight of the Angel made manifest, could not endure the 
supernatural light, and was overwhelmed. It strove to break 
free from the bonds of the flesh as from a harness . . . and he lay 
there in a swoon. Very similar is the comment on the vision of 
Ezekiel. Chrysostom realizes that the aw T e in these experiences does 
not find its origin in any self-depreciation of an ethical or rational 
sort (e. g. from an uneasy conscience or the like), but that they are 
the natural reactions of the creature, of the acr$eveia <vVca;s face to 
face with transcendent, unearthly reality, as such. I cite to you 
the case of the holy Daniel, the friend of God, who, because of 
his wisdom and righteousness, might well have been justly con 
fident, just in order that no one may suppose, if I show even him 
to you weakening, collapsing, powerless, and overwhelmed before 
the presence of the Angel, that this befalls him because of his 
sins and his evil conscience, but that this example may throw a 
clear light on the impotence of our nature. 

Naturally the passage in Genesis xviii. 27 has not escaped him ; 
still less the scene in Isa. vi. But let us now leave St. Paul 
and the prophets and ascend into Heaven to see if haply any one 
there knows what God s essential being is. ... What do we hear 
from the Angels ? Do they inquire and reason meticulously 
among themselves about God s nature ? By no means. What do 
they do? They praise Him. They fall down and worship Him 
with a great trembling ( TroXArjs TT)V tfrpiicrfi, p. 707). They 
turn their eyes away, and can themselves not endure the vouch 
safed revelation of God. Again: Tell me, wherefore do they 
cover their faces and hide them with their wings? Why, but 


that they cannot endure the dazzling radiance and its rays that 
pour from the Throne ? Nor does he ignore the loci classici of 
the tremenda maiestas, viz. Ps. civ. 32 and Job ix. 6 sqq. : He 
looketh on the earth and it trembleth : he toucheth the hills and 
they smoke.* Ps. cxiv. 3 : * The sea saw and fled : Jordan was 
driven back. * iraa-a fj KTICTIS craAeucrcu, Se Soi/ce, rpe/xti. And he 
concludes his commentary upon all this with the remark: (I 
will conclude, for) thought grows weary, not from the extent of 
what I have spoken but from the trembling it brings. For the 
soul that concerns itself in these contemplations trembles and is 

appalled (iKa/xei TJ/JLLV rj Stavota, ou T<5 TrAry^ct aAAa TTJ (^ptKrj TOJV 
i/D77/Avoov. yap Kal e/cTreTrX^KTat rj ij/v^r) CTTI TTO\V rats avo> 
IvSiarpifiovcra. $coptais) (p. 725). 

Chrysostom, then, is combating the arrogance and overweening 
presumptuousness of the human understanding and of the creature 
in general in imagining that any escape is possible from the 
incomprehensible, supreme, transcendent, and wholly other 
nature of God. And it is because he wishes to shatter this human 
complacency, to overawe and overwhelm, that he portrays these 
aspects of the numinous. But he does not leave out the others or 
fail to note the paradox, that this * incomprehensible is at the 
same time a fascinans and an intimate and essential possession 
of the human soul. Blank amazement is to him at the same time 
enraptured adoration ; speechlessness in the presence of the inap 
prehensible passes over and only an understanding of the 
1 harmony of contrasts can show how into a humble gratitude 
that it is so, that it is * fearfully wonderful . He cites again 
Ps. cxxxix. 14, and interprets it thus : See here the nobility 
of this servant of God (David). " I thank Thee " (evxapurroi crot), he 
says in effect, "for that I have a Lord who is beyond comprehen 
sion." Tersteegen means the same when he uses the words 
A comprehended God is no God to express praise ; as does Goethe, 
in the words of the archangels hymn in Faust : 

Ihr Anblick gibt den Engeln Starke, 
Weil keiner sie ergriinden mag. 1 

And SO with Chrysostom : this u.KaTa\r]7rTov is e/ceiVy; /xaKapta ovcrta 
a favourite and recurring expression of his. And we feel that 

1 Its (sc. the Sun s) aspect gives the angels strength because none may 
fathom it. [The usual reading is wenn, though , for well, because . 


this Being is incomprehensible because it is blessed , and 
blessed because it is incomprehensible . In the very passion 
with which he battles for the unimaginable God, who makes 
His worshipper weak and dizzy with awe, there yet glows un- 
uttered and unexpressed an enthusiastic sense of the soul 
having been carried away in rapture and taken up into the being 
of God. 

The aKaTdXrjTTTov involves a denial of conceptual designations, 
and hence come the negative attributes of deity, which Chryso- 
stom frequently employs, singly or in series a negativa thco- 
logia in little. But this negative theology does not mean that 
faith and feeling are dissipated and reduced to nothing ; on the 
contrary, it contains within it the loftiest spirit of devotion, and 
it is out of such negative attributes that Chrysostom fashions 
the most solemn confessions and prayers. He thereby shows 
once more that feeling and experience reach far beyond conceiv 
ing, and that a conception negative in form may often become the 
symbol (what we have called an * ideogram ) for a content of 
meaning which, if absolutely unutterable, is none the less in the 
highest degree positive. And the example of Chrysostom at the 
same time shows that a negative theology can and indeed must 
arise, not only from the infusion of Hellenistic speculation and 
nature mysticism , but from purely and genuinely religious roots, 
namely, the experience of the numinous. 

The insistence upon the inconceivable and incomprehensible 
in God did not cease to be a point of honour in Christian theology 
with Chrysostom. The forms this protest took did indeed vary : 
it appears as the assertion at one time that God stands above 
the reach of all possible predication whatever, and so is Nothing 
ness and the * Silent desert ; at another, that He is dvoWu/xos, 
TravoWyxo?, o/zaw/xos ; at another, that He can indeed be made the 
subject of predication, but only in so far as all attributes are mere 
1 nomina ex partc intcllectus nostri ; or again, the sternest form 
of all, it reproduces the line of thought of Job, as can be seen 
now and then in Luther in his notion of the deus absconditus 
the thought, namely, that God Himself is not only above every 
human grasp, but in antagonism to it. 1 

1 Compare also Luther s Short Form of the Ten Commandments, the 
Cited, and the. Lord s 1 raytr (1520) : 1 venture to put my trust in the one 
God alone, the invisible and incomprehensible, who hath created Heaven 
and Earth and is alone above all creatures. 


All these doctrines are preserving a heritage passionately won 
against the opposition of ancient errors. They do so, certainly, 
at the cost of a one-sided emphasis, for the meaning Christians 
attach to the word * God is indubitably also a profoundly rational 
one, the basis indeed of all reason. Yet this is bound up with a 
still profounder meaning, which, as we have seen, is beyond and 
above all conception. 

With the discourse of Chrysostom we may compare Gregory of 
Nyssa, Contra Eunomium (Migne, S. Gr. 45). What stirs Chryso 
stom passionately as a matter of the first moment is indeed only 
of secondary importance in Gregory, incidental to his dogmatic 
inquiries. But even so he, too, can write (p. 601) : t Se TIS 

airaiTOLr) rrjs Octets oucrias tp/xr/veiav nva Kal inroypa^v Kal c^rj-yrjcriv, 
d/A<z0as ctvat rrj<s TOKIVTT?? cro^t as OUK apvrycro/xe^a . . . on OVK CCTTI TO 
aopLcrrov Kara rr]v tfrvanv eTrivoia Ttvi prjfj.dr(t)v Bia\r)<f>67Jvau tTrei ovv 
KpeiTTOv eaTi /cat vij/rjXorfpov rrj<s 6vofJ.acmKrjs o-^jaao-i as TO eiov 
says the Latin translator] auoTrrj Ti/mv ra vrrep Xoyov re Kal 
fjiefjiaOijKafjLfv. ( But if one asks for an interpretation or description 
or explanation of the divine nature we shall not deny that in such 
a science as this we are unlearned. . . . For there is no way of 
comprehending the indefinable as it is by a scheme of words. For 
the Divine is too noble and too lofty to be indicated by a name : 
and we have learned to honour by silence that which transcends 
reason and thought. ) 

But another, long before Chrysostom the heretic Marcion 
writing in a different situation, not within but on the fringe 
of the Church, had experienced the inconceivable aspect of the 
numinous and extolled it in words of an almost intoxicated fervour: 
O it is a marvel beyond marvels, enravishment, power, and 
wonder, that one can say nought about the Gospel, and think 
nought about it and compare it to nothing. 

It is remarkable to see how the several moments of the numinous 
in experience are constantly compounded and blended afresh so as to 
produce quite special and peculiar types of religion. In Marcion 
the original moment tremendum is silenced before the consoling 
power of the Gospel, in fulfilment of the word Perfect love casts 
out feai . But there remains strongly and profoundly felt the 
* wholly other , the ineffable and inconceivable, in his strange 
God , and in the first words of his treatise, whose * violent fer 
ment (in Harnack s phrase) reveals the element of fascination . 


The sense of the august lives in the feeling of distance in face 
of the strange God , and in that too we detect a light thrill that 
is the awe of the tremcndum reawakened and returning in a nobler 
form. 1 



Example of numinous poetry. 

From Bhagavad-Glta, Chapter XI (Barnett s translation slightly 


IN the Bhagavad-Gitft, Krishna, the embodiment of Vishnu 
Vishnu himself in human form instructs Aryuna in the deepest 
mysteries of his religion. Aryuna then desires to behold God 
himself in his own form, and his petition is granted. And now 
in Chapter XI there follows a theophany of terrific grandeur, which 
seeks to give a feeling of the unapproachable essence of the Divine 
before which the creature trembles and falls, by embodying the 
human and natural means of terror, majesty, and sublimity. 
Aryuna stands in his war-chariot, about to enter the carnage of 
the battle against his brother Yudhishthira s enemies. Krishna 
is his charioteer. Aryuna tells him his request. Show to me 
thy changeless Self, Sovran of the Rule. Krishna-Vishnu answers 
him : 

7. Behold now, O Wearer of the Hair-Knot, the whole universe, 

moving and unmoving, solely lodged in this my body, and 
all else that thou art lain to see. 

8. But for that thou canst not see Me with this thine own eye, 

I give thee a divine eye ; behold my sovran Rule. 

9. Thus speaking, Hari (i. e. Vishnu), the great Lord of the Rulo, 

then showed to Pritha s son his sovran form supreme, 

10. of many mouths and eyes, of many divine ornaments, with 

uplifted weapons many and divine ; 

11. wearing divine flower-chaplets and robes, with anointment of 

divine perfumes, compound of all marvels, tha boundless 
god facing all ways. 

1 See Harnack, Marcion, 1921, p. 138. 


12. If the light of a thousand suns should of a sudden rise in the 
heavens, it would be like to the light of that mighty 
being. . . . 

14. Thereupon the Wealth- Winner (i.e. Aryuna), smitten with 
amazement, with hair standing on end, bowed his head, 
and with clasped hands spake to the God. . . . 

17. I behold Thee bearing diadem, mace, and disc, massed in 
radiance, on all sides glistening, hardly discernible, shining 
round about as gleaming fire and sun, immeasurable. . . . 

20. For this mid-space between heaven and earth and all the 

quarters of the sky are filled with Thee alone. Seeing 
this Thy fearful and wonderful form, O great-hearted one, 
the threefold world quakes. 

21. These hosts of Suras come unto Thee; some, affrighted, praise 

with clasped hands. With cries of " Hail ! " the hosts of 
Great Saints and Adepts sing to Thee hymns of abounding 

22. All the Spirits and Divine Powers that live in heaven and 

earth, in clouds and winds, in air and water, Daemons, 
Manes, Asuras, Saints, and Adepts, all gaze on Thee in 

23. Looking upon Thy mighty form of many mouths and eyes, 

of many arms and thighs and feet, of many bellies, and 
grim with many teeth, O mighty-armed one, the worlds 
and I quake. 

24. For as I behold Thee touching the heavens, glittering, many- 

hued, with yawning mouths, with wide eyes agleam, my 
inward soul trembles, and I find not constancy nor peace, 
O Vishnu. 

25. Seeing Thy mouths grim with teeth, like to the fire of the 

last day, I recognize not the quarters of the heavens, and 
take no joy ; Lord of Gods, home of the universe, be 
gracious ! 

26. These sons of Dhritarashtra all, with the hosts of kings, 

Bhishma, Drona, and the Charioteer s son yonder, and 
likewise the chief of our warriors, 

27. hasting enter into Thy mouths grim with fangs and terrible ; 

some, caught between the teeth, appear with crushed heads. 

28. As many currents of rivers flow to meet the sea, so these 

warriors of the world of mankind pass into Thy blazing 

29. As moths with exceeding speed pass into a lighted fire to 

perish, so pass the worlds with exceeding speed into Thy 
mouths to perish. 


30. Thou devourest and lickest up all the worlds around with 

flaming mouths ; filling the whole universe with radiance, 
grim glow Thy splendours, O Vishnu ! 

31. Relate to me who Thou art in this grim form. Homage to 

Thee, chief of gods ; be gracious ! I would fain know Thee 
as First Being. . . . 

Thereupon Vishnu reassumes his friendly Krishna-form. Ar- 
yuna s petition to comprehend the incomprehensible is not granted 
him. It is forbidden to man, as Luther says, to soar into the 
height of Majesty : he must confine himself to the Word of 
gracious Promise. Such a word is imparted. The tremendous 
chapter closes with the words which expositors take as the sum 
and epitome of the whole Glta : 

65. * He who does what he does for Me alone ; who is given over 
to Me, who is devoted to Me, void of attachment, without 
hatred to any born being, O son of Pandu, comes to Me. 

TJie Numinous in Hymn and Liturgy. 

A comparison of two poems may indicate the difference between 
a merely rational glorification of the Godhead and one that also 
prompts to a feeling of the non-rational, the numinous, in its 
aspect of mysterium tremendum . Gellert can sing of The 
Honour of God from Nature powerfully and finely enough 

Die Himmel riihmen des Ewigen Ehre, 
Ihr Schall pflanzt seinen Namen fort. 

Here everything is bright, rational, and intimate up to the last 
verse : 

Ich bin Dein Scho pfer, bin Weisheit und Glite, 

Ein Gott der Ordnung und Dein Heil. 

Ich bin s ! Mich liebe von ganzem Gemtite, 

Und ii i in in an meiner Gnade teil. 

But, beautiful as this hymn is, we do not encounter there the 
1 honour of God in all its fullness. Some element is missing, and 
what this is we feel at once when we compare with this hymn 
that composed at an earlier date by E. Lange, To the Majesty of 
God : 

Vor Dir erbebt der Engel Chor, 
Sie schlagen Aug und Antlitz nieder, 
So schrecklich kommst Du ihnen vor 
Und davon schallen ihre Lieder. . . . 


Denn Dein ist Kraft und Ruhm, 

Das Reich und Heiligtum, 

Da mich Entsetzen niir entreisset. 

Bei Dir ist Majestat 

Die iiber alles geht, 

Und heilig, heilig, heilig, heisset. 

That goes farther than Gellert. And yet even here there is still 
something lacking, something that we find in the Song of the 
Seraphim in Isaiah vi. Even Lange, despite his numb amaze 
ment , sings ten long stanzas ; the angels sing a bare two lines. 
And he incessantly speaks to God in the second person singular ; 
whereas the angels speak before Yahweh in the third person. 1 

A liturgy unusually rich in numinous hymns and prayers is 
that of Yom Kippur, the great Day of Atonement of the Jews. 
It is overshadowed by the Holy, Holy, Holy of the Seraphim 
(Isa. vi), which recurs more than once, and it has prayers in it as 
wonderful as the ubelcen ten pachdeM : 

1 So then, let Thy fear, O Yahweh our God, come over all Thy 
creatures, and reverent dread (emateka) of Thee upon all that 
Thou hast made, that all Thy creatures may fear Thee and every 
being bow before Thee and that they may all become bonded 
together to do Thy will with all their heart, even as we know, O 
Yahweh our God, that Thine is the lordship, that might is in Thy 
hand and power in Thy right hand and Thy name exalted above 
all that Thou hast created. 


FEELINGS and emotions, as states of mental tension, find their 
natural relaxation in uttered sounds. It is evident that the 
numinous feeling also, in its first outbreak in consciousness, must 

1 In point of fact one cannot always speak to God as Thou , and 
sometimes not at all. St. Theresa addresses God as Eternal Majesty , 
and the French readily use Vous for Tu . And Goethe came very near 
to the tremendum mysterium -when he said to Eckermann (Dec. 31, 
1823) : People treat the name of God as though the inconceivable and 
wholly incomprehensible supreme Being were not far more than such as 
they. Else they would not say : " The Lord God," " the dear God," " the 
good God." Were they penetrated through and through by a sense of 
His greatness, they would be dumb and unable to name Him for very 


have found sounds for its expression, and at first inarticulate 
sounds rather than words ; but it is improbable that it devised 
special and peculiar sounds for itself. Analogous as it is to other 
feelings, it no doubt adopted the already familiar sounds expressive 
of the emotions of terror, amazement, joy, and the like. But it 
could, and sometimes did, put, as it were, a special stamp upon 
sounds coined for a different use. The German interjection Hu I , 
for instance, expresses to-day invariably and exclusively, not 
terror in general, but terror accompanied by shuddering, i.e. 
numinous terror . So, too, whereas hus in vulgar Arabic is, I 
am told, a sound expressive of soothing in general, the correspond 
ing Hebrew sound has is only found in a numinous context. (Cf. 
Amos vi. 10 : Hold thy tongue (7ms), for we may not make men 
tion of the name of the Lord. Zeph. i. 7: Hold thy peace at 
the presence of the Lord God. Hab. ii. 20; Judges iii. 19; 
also Amos viii. 3.) Such a specialization of a common interjection 
has very possibly often come about. When the ecstatic Dervishes 
of Islam bring their Zikr to an end, they break into ejaculations, 
such as Allah Akbar , which end finally in a protracted groan 
ing Hu. This IlQ has indeed been explained on rational grounds 
as the Arabic personal pronoun of the third person, He , i.e. 
Allah. But any one who has actually heard these ejaculations 
finds it hard to think of them simply as pronouns. Rather we 
have the impression that in this sound the numinous feeling is 
seeking to discharge itself. 

This specialization is perhaps the clue to the understanding 
of the Sanskrit word atcarya, to which reference has been made 
more than once. Its derivation has been hitherto an enigma ; 
but one may conjecture that the explanation is in fact very simple, 
and that the word is just a compound of the two words as and 
carya. Carya = agendum , that which is done or is to be done ; 
while as is a primitive sound to express the stupendum , the 
long protracted open vowel of wonder (a, oh, ha), combining 
with the sibilant, which in all languages is used to express or 
produce a terrified silence (cf. Hist! Sh ! Sst !). An fe-carya l 
would not then be properly and primarily anything conceptual 
at all, nor even a marvel , but simply that in the presence 

1 Compare the exactly parallel forms a-kfira, ahan-kdra: and vide 
Soderblom, Da$ Werden des (Jottcsglaubens, 1916, p. 90, on the Manitu of 
the Indians. 

o 2 


of which we must exclaim " as ! as! ". If this interpreta 
tion is correct, we can detect in this word just the original 
shudder of numinous awe in the first and earliest form in which 
it expressed itself, before any figure of speech, objective represen 
tation, or concept had been devised to explicate it ; it bursts 
forth crudely and vehemently in this primal cry and is unable to 
name its object otherwise than as a something before which such 
sounds must involuntarily be uttered. Professor Geldner has 
kindly sent me a reference to a passage in the Kena-Upanishad 
(iv. 29) which seems to me to be an excellent confirmation of this 
and at the same time to illustrate how the primal numinous feel 
ing did originally emerge as pure feeling, before any concept or 
concrete representation of it had come into being. The fine, 
nal ve old Kena-Upanishad aims at making perceptible to the 
disciple that before which * all words turn back , and proceeds 
just as we do, by trying to produce in him an appropriate feeling- 
reflex by means of a simile. The lines run : 

This is the way It (sc. Brahman) is to be illustrated : 
When lightnings have been loosened : 

aaah ! 
When that has made the eyes to be closed 

aaah ! 
So far concerning Deity (devata). 

What, then, is the devata, the Brahman? It is an a-caryam, 
i. e. that in whose presence we must exclaim "aaah ! " And one 
cannot * illustrate the numinous character of this aaah by any 
better analogy than that of the lightning here given. The 
unexpectedness and suddenness of the lightning-flash, its dreadful 
weirdness, its overpoweringness and dazzling splendour, the fright 
and the delight of it, give it an almost numinous impressiveness, 
and indeed often do produce an actual numinous impression on 
the mind. 

This reference of Professor Geldner s seems to me all the more 
significant from the fact that it appears to me to adumbrate quite a 
new method of solving the old puzzle of the Brahman , and what it 
means. For this task philosophical speculation is too elevated, mere 
etymology too insufficient, a method. What is necessary in order 
really to get at the heart of the matter is to have rediscovered and 
recaptured the feelings which this word originally connoted and 
which thrill through it. And for this we have again a very 


instructive passage in that which, immediately preceding the one 
just quoted (Kena, iii. 15). at the same time serves to elucidate it. 
It is where the Devas catch for the first time an intimation of the 
Brahman . They ask, in amazement, and yet obviously also in 
extreme eagerness : Kim idamydksam ? of which Deussen s trans 
lation What marvellous thing (Wunderding) is this? is too tame 
a rendering. It is more exactly: What un-thing (Unding) is 
this? in the sense in which this expression is popularly used for 
a thing of which no one can say what it is or whence it comes, 
and in whose presence we have the feeling of the uncanny. 
Yaks a , like Unding , is sometimes a word for a ghost, and is 
originally the unyehcucr , monstrous , in the sense of the un 
canny, e<-rie, apparition , or spectre. And it is just as such 
that the Brahman* in this passage behaves. It does the things 
goblins and magical creatures usually do, vanishing suddenly like 
a true phantom at the climax of the transaction. Such feelings, 
which we meet at the commencement of the great Mysticism 
of Brahman, attend its course continually, and he who cannot 
recognize and detect their presence there cannot do more than 
reconstruct the meagre skeleton of concepts they have left behind. 
And the same thing, mutatis mutandis, holds good also for Western 

Another original sound in which the numinous feeling is 
articulated is certainly the holy syllable t om\ It likewise has 
no sort of conceptual connotation. Like the particle as, it is 
simply an articulated sound no word, nor even a complete 
syllable, for the m in which it ends is not an ordinary m , but 
simply the long protracted nasal continuation of the deep o 
sound. It is really simply a sort of growl or groan, sounding up 
from within as the quasi-reflex expression of profound emotion 
in circumstances of a numinous-magical nature, and serving to 
relieve consciousness of a felt burden, almost physical in its 
constraining force. And this constraint and compulsion to 
expression are still recoverable to our feeling when we recapture 
this mood of submergence and absorption in the wholly other . 

This Om is exactly parallel to the similar sound in Sanskrit, 
Hum like it, nothing but a numinous ejaculation, with probably 
no further significance. 

It would be a task for the history and psychology of religion 
alike to examine the innumerable nainea of gods and demons, anJ 


perhaps also the various designations for ghost, soul, and spirit, 
with a view to seeing whether many of them may not simply 
have arisen from original numinous sounds and thus be parallels 
to the name d&carya, already considered. 1 



THE non-rational which we were looking for in the Idea of the 
divine was found in the numinous, and in our recognition of this 
we came to see that rationalistic speculation tends to conceal the 
divine in God, and that before God becomes for us rationality, 
absolute reason, a personality, a moral will, He is the wholly 
non-rational and * other , the being of sheer mystery and marvel. 
We had to turn to the feelings of horror and shudder and spectral 
haunting in order, by means of these caricatures of the authentic 
numinous emotions, to break through the hard crust of rationalism 
and bring into play the feelings buried deep down in our religious 

Now what is true of our apprehension of the divine is true also 
of its counterpart in the creature soul and spirit. Gregory of 
Nyssa well says : Since one of the signs of the Divine Nature is 
its essential incomprehensibility, in this also must the copy be 
like the original. For were the nature of the copy comprehended, 
when the original was above comprehension, the copy would be 
a mistaken one. But, inasmuch as the nature of our spirit is 
above our understanding, it has here an exact resemblance to the 
all-sublime, representing by its own unfathomableness the incom 
prehensible Being of God. Here, too, we need to break up anew 

1 K. Miiller suggests that the divine name Yah, Yahu, may have had 
this origin. Euoios , the secondary name of Bacchus, may also denote 
simply him in whose presence one ejaculates Euoi . He could cite in his 
support Jelaleddin, who says in Divan 31. 8: I know no other than 
Yahu. This is here certainly nothing but one of the most familiar 
dervish cries (as the translator adds in a note, p. 282), and will then 
mean, in accordance with the usual rendering, he , or, as we rather 
suspect, simply hu\ Nicholson puts Yahweh in brackets, without 
further justification. Cf. R. A. Nicholson, Selected Poems from the Divani 
Sharnsi Tabriz, Cambridge, 1898. 


our hardened and crusted feelings and to withstand the intellec- 
tualizing tendency to which we are so prone in our doctrine of the 
soul and its creation in God s image. For this divine image in 
man also does not merely consist in the fact that he is reasonable, 
moral, intelligent, and a person, but primarily in the fact that in 
its profoundest depths his being is indeed for religious self-con 
sciousness something numinous that the soul is mystery and 
marvel. This is ho\v Mysticism apprehends it, and we can 
understand at once why this is so from our definition of Mysticism 
as the tendency to stress up to an extreme and exaggerated point 
the non-rational aspect of religion. And what was already stir 
ring in crude fashion at the earliest and lowest stage of numinous 
feeling recurs at the most exalted level of Mysticism with after 
effects that colour the whole experience. In the mystic s praise 
of the soul, and in that fundus animae of which he tells the 
mysteries, there echoes the stupor before the wholly other 
that characterized the primitive belief in souls and even primitive 
feeling of the presence of ghosts. 

We said above (p. 124) that the most interesting point in the 
primitive idea of soul is not the form given to it in fantasy, 
multifarious in its variations, but the element of feeling stupor 
which it liberates, and the character of mystery and wholly 
otherness which surrounds it. This fact is obscured in the 
measure in which the soul becomes later the subject of myth, 
fairy story, and narrative, speculation and doctrine, and finally of 
psychological investigation. It then becomes more and more 
something entirely rational ; its origin in magic and mystery 
becomes overlaid with concepts, scholastic terms, and classifica 
tions. The Doctrine of souls or * Atman of the Indian Sankhya 
system is the best example of this. But even this cannot entirely 
conceal the fact that Soul or Atman is properly the thing of 
marvel and stupefaction, quite undefinable, outsoaring all concep 
tions, wholly alien to our understanding. And this finds 
wonderful expression in the verses of the Glta, 2. 29, which we 
transcribe here of intention in the original : 

AScaryavat paSyati kaScid enam. 
AScaryavad vadati tathaiva can yah. 
AScaryavac cainam an yah Srinoti, 

Srutva pyenam veda na caiva kaScit. 

The sound of these verses suggests a magic formula, almost a 


conjuration, especially when they are heard intoned in the 
peculiar sacred sing-song in which such lines are commonly 
recited. The note of magic and mystery is very palpable in them. 
As for the translation, it is usual to render Ascaryam by strange , 

* wondrous , * a thing of wonder or marvel ; but we should 
perhaps catch the emotional accent in the lines more exactly as 
follows : 

As wholly other doth one gaze upon it (sc. Atman). 

He speaketh of the * wholly other , who speaketh of the Atman. 

Something wholly other hath he learned, who hath learned 

the Atman. 
Yet none, albeit he hath learned it, may come to know it. 

But, however they be rendered into another language, there is 
living in these old phrases a profoundly numinous self-feeling, 
which still retains a trace of the stupor before an apparition of 
spirits. And it is continued where the Glta (2. 25) designates the 
Atman the acintya , i. e. that which is incomprehensible by 
thought. In this it is exactly like the fundus animae , the 

* spark , i Synderesis , or * Inner Abyss of our own Western 
mystics. In both cases we have, surviving in an ennobled form, 
the primal awe and shrinking before the presence of dscaryam 
and adbhutam , the haunting presence that prompts the earliest 
numinous feelings. For, as an old mystic tells us, the soul and 
its bottommost depth lie hidden away, ineffable as God himself 
so that no human skill ever attains to be able to know what the 
Soul is in its bottommost depth. For that a supernatural skill is 
needed. It is what is without a name. And the heights and 
depths which are disclosed in these Men can be grasped by no 
human sense or reason, for they surpass in their profundities all 
understanding - 1 

Finally, it may be said that we catch a last reflection of the 
numinous wonder in the wonder, one might almost say in the 
eager curiosity, with which Augustine roves through the chambers 
of the soul, even when he is pursuing * psychological discussion. 
He feels that he has a story of marvel to tell when he describes 
the soul. His psychology is half nurninology . Cf. Confessions, 
x. 6-27. 

The clearer insight into the inmost marvel of the soul is not set 
free as a sort of reflex : it comes in the experience as an uprush, 

1 Greith, pp. 70 and 80. 


an irruption, a burst of illumination, * like a flash , in the English 
phrase, as a sudden aper?u , in Goethe s. And so it easily shows 
the two elements ; on the one hand there is an entry or penetra 
tion into consciousness of inspiration, sudden, unmeditated, once 
and for all achieved ; and on the other hand there is a reminis 
cence (anamnesis), a recollection of something that was a familiar 
possession in the obscurity of feeling even before the moment of 
insight. Both of these elements are indicated in the old Kena- 
Upanishad, when (iv. 30), after speaking of the Brahman in the 
significant verses we have already considered (p. 196), the text 
goes on at once to speak of the Atman, in words which may be 
rendered thus : 

Now in respect to the Atman: 

It is as though something forces its way into consciousness 
And consciousness suddenly remembers 

Such a state of mind illustrates the awakening of knowledge 
of the Atman. 

We may compare the saying of Plato, already quoted (p. 98 n.); 
and, finally, the words of Meister Eckhart : 

Upon this matter a heathen sage hath a fine saying in speech 
with another sage: " I become aware of something in me which 
flashes upon my reason. I perceive of it that it is something, 
but what it is I cannot conceive. Only meseems that, could I 
conceive it, I should comprehend all truth." (W. Lehmann, 
Meister Eckhart, Gottingen, 1917, p. 243.) 

And the obscure Heracleitus says: Thou canst not discover 
the bounds of the soul albeit thou pacest its every road: so deep 
is its foundation. 



WE said above that the feeling of the wholly other gives rise 
in Mysticism to the tendency to follow the via negationis , by 
which every predicate that can be stated in words becomes 
excluded from the absolute Numen i. e. from Deity till finally 
the Godhead LJ designated aa nothingness and nullity , bearing 


in mind always that these terms denote in truth immeasurable 
plenitude of being. Now this is also the origin of that tendency 
to let the conception of personality and the personal also be sub 
merged in the same nothingness , a tendency which is in appear 
ance so irreligious. We need not dispute that the denial of 
personality to God does often in fact denote a wholly irreligious 
attitude ; mostly it is simply a disguised form of atheism, or 
betokens a desperate attempt to equate faith in God with belief in 
natural law and with naturalism. But it would be a huge error to 
suppose that anything of this kind is in the minds of the mystics 
when they set themselves to oppose the idea of personality in God. 
We shall be in a better position to understand what they are 
contending for if we take Mysticism following our previous 
definition as meaning the preponderance in religious conscious 
ness, even to the point of one-sided exaggeration, of its non- 
rational features. What we have, then, is a sort of antinomy, 
arising from the inner duality in the idea of the divine and the 
tension of its more rational and its more non-rational elements. 
(The non-rational assumes thus an apparently irrational character.) 
It is the wholly other aspect of the numen, resisting every 
analogy, every attempted comparison, and every determination ; 
so that it is here really true that omnis determinatio est 
negatio . 

Now this holds good not only in the case of the most lofty and 
reverent feelings, in which devotion and worship reach their con 
summation, but also in the case of that primary and elemental awe 
of which we spoke on pages 129-132. Let us glance once more at 
the experience given in the story of Jacob at Bethel, there cited (Gen. 
xxviii. 16-17). If we use as a clue to it our own power of imagina 
tive sympathy, introspection will show that even this experience 
contains a clear antinomy, a conflict of opposites. We said that 
the pure elemental awe mirrored in Jacob s first words, How 
dreadful is this place ! , is rendered explicit in the words that fol 
low. The simple experience of avvefulness is intej-pretcd all but 
instinctively, and apart from reflection and the interpretation is, 
in the English phrase, a presence , a real, present, and personal 
being. Now though we certainly feel that such an interpretation 
is needed and in some sense right, and that we should in Jacob s 
place have found no other to explicate our feeling, yet we are no 
less certainly conscious of a counter-impulse in us which resists 


it, suggesting that, when all is said, such expressions as Being , 
1 Person , Thou , He , are strangely alien and repugnant to the 
very import of tho experience. Does this Power that impresses us 
with such awe admit of being comprised in such a firm outline, 
admit of question and answer in the second person ? Is not this 
interpretation at first glance distinctly anthropomorphic? The 
abstract English expression, a presence , is itself a good indica 
tion of this for a presence is simply felt, and the English 
usage of words is chary of saying anything more specific. The 
Personalism of the later developed mythology and the later 
developments of ordered worship (mostly practised on a wholly 
personalist basis) have tended more and more to extrude this 
authentic and sensitive element of feeling from the religious 
experience; and the daemon or god , which they both con 
tributed to shape, is not richer but poorer in content than the 
object of that primal awe , corresponding only to certain sides 
and aspects of it. Before the gods were the hard-outlined, 
clear-featured goda of the myths, they were numina , and, though 
the numcn certainly gains something from subsequent mythology 
in definitenoss and fixity of representation, it also certainly loses 
something of its original wealth of meaning in the process. In 
drawing more near to earth and to humanity, it comes itself to 
acquire human traits, and, that this tendency may not be carried 
too far, it is necessary now and then to melt down, as it were, 
the human lineaments of God in the more elemental entirety of 
the original experience. Tho numen has, no doubt, in itself per 
sonal features, which somehow enable the worshipper to refer to 
it by a pronoun, as he or she . But, while the limits of the 
personal are at this stage still fluid, they cannot (any more than 
in the case of the more definite figure of the God ) quite com 
prise the full import of the inapprehensible and unnameable, 
which presses out beyond them. 

Thus already, at the cutset, w find in the numen of primitive 
religious feeling that tension between the personal and the supra- 
personal which recurs again in the maturer stages of the developing 
experience of God. It is to be found next in the comparatively 
low level of the daemonic , where it is disclosed in an actual 
difference in the verbid forms employed. The Greek Baip^v is 
indisputably a single, concrete, personal Being ; the SaifMoviov, 
that, for example, of Socrates, is certainly none of these neither 


concrete, nor personal, and hardly even to be called a being or 
individual entity. Yet in the impressiveness and devout awe 
which it suggests Sou/toi/iov is, if anything, the richer of the two 
terms. In Indian terminology rdksds is the concrete, personal, 
and masculine Daemon , but a transposition of the accent to the 
first syllable gives raksas (the neuter), t the daemonic , or rather 
demonic ; a word, perhaps, more charged with terror than is 
raksas ; and the fact that the difference is merely one of accent 
shows very clearly how easily the one meaning passes into the 
other. But exactly the same thing is seen again at that highest 
stage, at which the unfolding of the numinous consciousness 
reaches its climax in India : brahman is the everlasting Lord and 
God, the personal Brahma ; while brahman is the divine Absolute, 
the supra-personal Brahma, an It rather than a * He . And the 
two are bound together in indissoluble union as the two essential 
poles of the eternal unity of the Numen. And here, again, the 
closeness of their interconnexion is emphatically shown by the 
fact that they are denoted by one and the same word and 
distinguished by a mere change of accent and gender. 

Now it is generally supposed that there is something peculiarly 
and specifically oriental in this characteristic of Indian religion. 
But this is by no means the case. On the contrary, one may 
venture to assert that all gods are more than mere (personal) gods, 
and that all the greater representations of deity show from time 
to time features which reveal their ancient character as numina 
and burst the bounds of the personal and theistic. This is 
obviously the case where the experienced relation of the worshipper 
to his god does not exclusively take the form of contact with a 
* beyond and transcendent being, but comes somehow as the 
experience of seizure and possession by the god, as being filled by 
him, an experience in which the god wholly or partially enters 
the believer and dwells in him, or assimilates him to his own 
divine nature, commingling with his spirit and becoming very 
part of him ; or, again, where the god becomes the sphere in 
which we live and move and have our being . And what god has 
not in some sense had this character ? It is certainly true of the 
personal Isvara of India, who, besides his personal character, 
pervades his Bhakta as antaryamin , the immanent Indweller; 
it is true of Ahura-maeda, who by his spirits does the same ; and 
it is true of Dionysus, Apollo, and Zeus. No less than the mere 


crude daemon can the god become 7rvef/ia and permeate the 
soul of man. And in so far the notion of a god passes beyond 
the sphere of social and personal ideas and breaks through the 
confines of the merely personal. Persons cannot strictly inter 
penetrate, cannot become one inclusive of another. Such relations 
experienced between man and deity become altogether irrational, 
if we judge them by the standard of personality. 

The Yahweh of the Old Testament is also more than a god in 
the merely personal sense, for though it is a sign of his superior 
value to all tribal gods, that the personal traits are so incompar 
ably more strongly marked in him, yet other and non-personal 
features are not lacking. We come up against these in groping 
fashion in the comparison made between God s dealings with men 
and the working of an inexplicable force spontaneously released. 
But the second name of Yahweh, * Elohim , is also a proof of their 
existence. Elohim is gods , in the plural ; and * in the begin 
ning created (sing.) " gods" heaven and earth . Our way to-day, 
when we try to escape from the too narrow confines of the notion 
of unitary personality applied to God, is to use either an abstract 
noun, deity (die Gottheit), or an adjectival neuter expression, 
the divine (das gottliche). In Israel the same groping instinct 
had recourse to the adoption or adaptation of a plural substantive 
form, which was yet made to govern a verb in the singular ! 
There cannot be a more uncompromising expression of what we 
called the antinomy or conflict of opposites in the experience of 
the numinous. It is very similar when later Shamayim, l Heaven , 
becomes a name for God to be used once as such also in the 
Gospel. It does not in the least signify an abstract way of 
conceiving God ; but rather the feeling that endeavours to escape 
from any too anthropomorphic conception. Above all does the 
God of Job burst the bounds of interpretation by mere persona 
lity, as we have already seen. Moreover, Yahweh also is the 
nuinen which, blowing in the form of spirit, enters as ruach 
and TTveu/za into his chosen, mingling with their spirit, an 
antaryamin in full completion. 

And so, when we turn to the New Testament, we see that the 
Pneumatology and doctrine of Immanence in Paul and John, 
which give such unmistakable expression to the supra-personal 
aspect of the divine as the Light and the Life , do not mean 
a sudden irruption into religion of a wholly novel and alien 


element, but merely the complete realization of what was all the 
while potential in the character of Yahweh in his essence as a 

And what of the loftiest of all Christian claims, God is Love ? 
Usually we hear this saying without remarking how extraordinary 
it is. If we think of God in strictly and narrowly personal terms, 
He can indeed be He that loves , the loving One . But the God 
who is Love, who pours Himself out as love and becomes the love 
whereby Christians love, is something more even than this. 1 In 
fine, even our GOD is more than merely god . And, when 
Meister Eckhart says that one must stand apart from God in order 
to find deity, his error is certainly grave, but it is one which we 
can easily conceive as springing from the very heart of religion. 2 

But it is very evident that the religious attitude in face of this 
supra-personal aspect of the numen must be different from the 
ordinary attitude in personal intercourse by petition, prayer, 
colloquy. These have all assuredly pertained to the essence of 
religion from the earliest times, yet from the beginning they were 
not the only forms of intercourse. The numen on its side has 
intercourse with man in attracting him to it, seizing upon him, 
possessing him, breathing upon him, filling and permeating him. 
Its function is fvepytio-Oai, and on his side the man, the eve/ryov/x.ei os, 
is filled, possessed, made one with the numen. And what is true 
at the lower levels is true also at the highest. The Divine, 

1 There is an echo of this antinomy in the dispute of the Scholastics 
whether the love whereby we love is the Spiritus Sanctus ,i.e. Godllimself, 
or merely His donum . 

8 We have seen that it is an indication of its superiority that in the 
Biblical conception of God the pole of the personal rather than of the 
impersonal is altogether preponderant. Taoism stands at the opposite 
extreme ; but it too is genuine and deeply felt religion, moving as it does 
wholly in the numinous. H. Hackmann says of it: Taoism originates 
in the contemplative speculation upon the secret of the world, the 
mystery of existence. Its basic instinct is to pay reverent and surmiseful 
heed to the marvellous forces operative in our phenomenal life, which 
give to its particular details system and connexion with the great unknown 
background of the universe. The word " mystery" the mysterhtm tre- 
mendum occupies a more central position in Taoism than in almost any 
other religion. . . . Here sounds a genuine note in the prodigious symphony 
of that life of the Boul the religious life which searches and surmises 
a deeper unity and a firm foundation in the beyond behind the happenings 
upon earth. (H. Hackmann, Die Monchsregeln des Klostertaoismus , 
Ostasiatische Zeitschrift, .yii. p. 170.) For this whole question cf. the 
same author s essay : Uber Objekt und Gebietsumfang der Religion, 
in Nieuto Theologisch Tijdschrift, 1918. 


experienced as light , fire , and TTVCV/IO, cannot properly accost 
or be accosted. It is a penetrating glow and illumination, fulfil 
ment, transfiguration most of all where it is experienced as 
* Life , or (what is but the intensification of this) as very Being . 
One can make a petition for life, but not to life. One is simply 
quickened through and through by it ; one cannot address it as 
Thou . And so intercourse with the numen comprises a way 
other than that of personal intercourse, that of the mystic . 
Each of the two, the personal and the mystical, belongs to the 
other, and the language of devotion uses very naturally the phrases 
and expressions of both commingled. They are not different 
forms of religion, still less different stages in religion, the one 
higher and better than the other, but the two essentially united 
poles of a single fundamental mental attitude, the religious atti 
tude. In Luther s conception of faith they are found in this 
relation openly manifested, where fides denotes both fiducia 
or trust a term implying personal intercourse and adhaesio , 
or intimate contact, a term essentially mystical. 

It is in the light of this primal fact of religion that we must 
seek an answer to the question as to the general place of Per- 
sonalism and Supra-personalism in religious history, and only 
so are we likely to avoid confounding this question with the 
question of Theism and Pantheism, with which it has nothing in 
common. In my books Vishnu-Narayana (pp. 59, 63) and Sid- 
dhanta dc* Ilamanuja (pp. 2, 80) I have referred further to the 
subject. And I have shown in a paper, Neues Singen (Christ- 
liche Welt, 1919, No. 48), its important practical bearings for 
religious conduct and its expression in prayer and hymn. I 
reproduce the relevant passage : 

Our usual Prayers and Hymns confine themselves to the 
region which I call the "rational". They lack that element 
which I call the non-rational or the " numinous ". But this is 
the other half of religion, its profounder and more mysterious 
background and basis. Yet only seldom has hymnody hitherto 
done justice to it. Consequently we are very deficient in the 
great and impressive "Hymns of Reverence ", the hymns of the 
(grammatical) third person, and our hymns are almost entirely in 
the second person, " Thou ", not " He ". Now there is something 
lacking in this constant, direct, obvious mode of accosting God 
in the second person singular. The Seraphim in Isaiah vi do not 
venture on such an address, and many a glorious Ekteny and 
Litany of the older Liturgies follows their example. The creature 


is simply unable to stand face to face with the Eternal without 
interruption ; his vision cannot bear the perpetual sight of Holi 
ness without an occasional screen. He needs sometimes the 
oblique as well as the straight, frontal approach, the indirect 
relationship with face half averted and covered, as well as the 
direct ; and consequently his utterance should not be so continu 
ally in the form of an address to God as to exclude prayerful and 
thoughtful discourse about Him. The same holds good of prayer 
in general, not merely of hymns. " Third person " hymns in 
this sense are not necessarily less, but under certain conditions 
may even be more genuine and first-hand utterances than those 
which address God as "Thou ". There is a further consequence. 
It is often thought that the designations of deity in impersonal, 
neuter terms (" It "), rather than in terms of person and masculine 
pronoun ("He", "Thou"), are too poor and too pale to gain a 
place in our Christian thought of God. But this is not always 
correct. Frequently such terms indicate the mysterious overplus 
of the non-rational and numinous, that cannot enter our " concepts " 
because it is too great and too alien to them ; and in this sense 
they are quite indispensable, even in hymns and prayers. It is a 
defect in our devotional poetry that it hardly knows any other 
image for the eternal mystery of the Godhead than those drawn 
from social intercourse and personal relationship, and so it tends 
to lose sight of just the mysterious transcendent aspect of deity. 
Assuredly God is for us " Thou " and a Person. But this Per 
sonal character is that side of His nature which is turned man- 
ward it is like a "Cape of Good Hope", jutting out from a 
mountain range which, as it recedes, is lost to view in the " tene- 
brae aeternae " only to be expressed by the suspension of speech 
and the inspiration of sacred song. 

So far we have spoken of the personal and supra-personal as 
applied to the supreme, spiritual Being. But what is true here is 
no less true of that which was created in its image, our own 
human soul or spirit. In us too all that we call person and per 
sonal, indeed all that we can know or name in ourselves at all, is 
but one element in the whole. Beneath it lies, even in us, that 
wholly other , whose profundities, impenetrable to any concept, 
can yet be grasped in the numinous self-feeling l by one who has 
experience of the deeper life. 

1 We say numinous self -feeling , not numinous self -consciousness , as 
Schleiermacher called it, who may be said to have re-discovered it. The 
ambiguity of his nomenclature, however, does not detract from the 
importance of his discovery. 




IN connexion with the discussion of Luther s conception of 
faith on page 107, I would refer to my book, Die Anschauung vom 
Heiligen Gciste bei Luther, the chapter Geist und Glaube (pp. 25-46), 
which includes the inquiry into Luther s conception of Faith and 
how far Faith for him is not merely confidence and trust (confidere, 
fiducia), but also a * cleaving to God in feeling and will (adhaerere 
Deo). And then let the reader study the noble little work of 
Johann von Kastl, De Adhacrcndo Deo, to recognize the inner 
connexion of Luther with Mysticism in regard to his conception 
of faith, especially the 12th chapter, De Amore Dei quod efficax 
sit. Luther says nothing of the impelling power of Faith to 
bring to new birth, to justify and to sanctify, that is not also said 
in this chapter of the * Amor Mysticus . 

* Solus amor est, quo convertimur ad Deum, transformamur in 
Deum, adhaeremus Deo, unimur Deo, ut simus unus spiritus cum 
eo, et beatificemur cum eo. * 

Here * amor is the potent, active, creative thing that changes 
us and brings us to new birth . * Love , too, like Faith, is the 
affect that knows no quiescence. 

* Proinde nihil amore acutius, nihil subtilius, aut penetrabilius. 
Nee quiescit, donee universaliter totam amabilis penetravit virtu- 
tern et profunditatem ac totalitatem, et unum se vult facere cum 
amato. Vchcmenter tendit in eum et ideo nunquam quiescit, donee 
omnia transeat et ad ipsuin in ipsum veniat. 2 

The effect of this adhaesio is thus exactly that which Luther 
also frequently describes : 

Quippe qui Deo adhaeret, versatur in lumine . . . qua ex re est 

1 It is Love alone whereby we are turned to God, and changed into the 
form of God, whereby we cleave to God and are made one with God, so 
that we are one spirit with Him and are beatified with Him. 

* For nothing is keener, nothing more subtle or more penetrating, than 
Love. Nor does it rest until it has penetrated the whole power and depth 
and entirety of its object, and its will is to make itself one with the 
loved one. It strives towards him with vehemence and so never has rest 
until it has passed through all things and reached him and entered into 


hominis in hac vita sublimior perfectio, ita Deo uniri, ut tota 
anima cum omnibus potentiis suis et viribus in Dominum Deum 
suum sit collecta, et unus fiat spiritus cum eo. l 

Luther calls this, in a still more violent expression, mit Gott 
ein Kuche werden (to become kneaded into one cake with God). 

It should at the same time be noted that in Johann von Kastl 
this amor is already permeated through and through by Faith, 
Trust, Comfort, and the longing for certitude, and that for him no 
less than for Luther the Remission of Sins stands as the first 
step in the ordo salutis , the order of salvation. Thus : 

Sic scilicet in Domino Deo de omni sua necessitate audcat 
plene totaliter confidere. Hoc ipso facto in tantum Deo complacet, 
ut suam ei gratiam largiatur et per ipsam grutiam veram sentiat 
caritatem et dilectionem, omnemque ambiguitatem et timorem expel- 
lentem in Deoque confidenter sperantem 2 (op. cit, ch. 5). 

And so adhaesio may come about just as well by means of 
* faith : sed tantum fide et bona voluntate adhaerere Deo 3 
(ch. 6). 

Here, too, are freedom from care and the assurance of consola 
tion the things to be prized : et eius consolatione suaviter 
reficitur 4 (ch. 7). 

And the whole series of religious experiences, so often recurring 
in Luther, are already displayed in Johann von Kastl in their 
characteristic order: 

. . . peccatorum remissio, amaritudinis expressio, collatio 
dulcedinis et securitatis, infusio gratiae et misericordiae, attractio 
et corroboratio familiaritatis atque abundans de ipso consolatio, 
firmaque adhaesio et unio. 5 

1 He indeed who cleaves to God abides in light. . . . Wherefore is it 
man s loftier perfection in this life to be so united to God that the whole 
soul with all its strength and all its powers is gathered into its Lord and 
God and becomes one spirit with Him. 

2 So then let (the soul) of its very necessity make the venture to trust 
wholly and completely in the Lord God. In this very wise is the soul so 
pleasing to God, that He bestows His own grace upon it, and by that 
very grace it comes to feel the true love and affection which drives away 
all doubt and all fear and hopes confidently in God. 

3 but only to cleave to God in faith and good will. 

* and by his consolation is (the soul) sweetly restored. 
B The forgiveness of sins, the expelling of bitterness, the bestowal of 
sweetness and security, the inpouring of grace and of mercy, the attraction 
and the strengthening of friendship with Him and abundant comfort in 
Him, and a firm cleaving to Him and union with Him. 


But a complete judgement upon Luther s connexion with Mysti 
cism will only be possible when all the manuscript remains of the 
popular mystical preaching of his time become known, which as 
yet lie undisturbed in our libraries. They will show the back 
ground and setting of Luther s thought and phraseology, the soil 
out of which they grew, and how many similarities and analogues 
there are to the feelings to which Luther gives expression. Were 
we unaware that the pamphlet Of the Liberty of a Christian 
was by Luther, we should probably count it among these writings. 
And in any case there are to be found within the limits of the so- 
called mystical literature contrasts in mental attitude that go 
farther than that between this work of Luther s and that of 
Johann von Kastl from which we have been quoting. And 
Luther is really far more akin to such a mystic as Meister 
Eckhart in his attitude than are either Plotinus on the one 
hand or, on the other, the crowd of God-enamoured monks 
and nuns, the doctores ecstatici and seraphici , such as 
Ignatius and John of the Cross, Theresa and Madame Guyon. 

But such comparisons as this are illuminating not only upon the 
question of the historical relation between Lutheranism and mystical 
religion, which is, after all, not a very important issue, but also 
upon the question as to the connexion between the two in their 
essential nature. It has been said that for a Protestant to love 
Mysticism is mere dilettantism : if he is in earnest, he must 
become a Catholic. But then Mysticism is an ambiguous term. 
If we mean by it the melting transport of a transcendent quasi- 
nuptial rapture, then the assertion may be justified. But the really 
typical moments of mysticism creature-feeling and union 
are not less but more possible upon the basis of Luther s fides 
( faith as fiducia and adhaesio ) than upon the basis of the 
amor mysticus . 

Johann Arndt says at the commencement of his Four Books of 
True Christianity (ch. 5) : By this heart-felt confidence and heart 
felt trust man gives his heart to God utterly, reposes only in God, 
surrenders himself and attaches himself to Him, unites himself 
with God, becomes a sharer in all that is of God and of Christ, 
becomes one God with God. This is simply Luther s doc 
trine (his fides as fiducia and adhaesio ), clarified and raised 
to a higher power. These expressions might well be found in 
Luther s Of the Liberty of a Christian indeed their meaning is 

p 2 


to be found there. St. Paul says the same, only more forcibly 
still, in Gal. ii. 20 and 1 Cor. vi. 17. 

But this question of the possibility of the transition from 
fides to the experience of union is not to be definitely decided 
by a citation of texts from Luther or from the Bible, but by a 
consideration of what Faith is in essence. Faith is more than 
a conviction of the truth of the eternal verities. It is a deeply 
felt state of tension with regard to them and of absorption in 
them ; and, as trust , it is the most intimate feeling of nearness. 
But in all this it contains in itself the core of that which is meant 
by mysterious terms like union , something that is more than 
the knowledge or the love of the earlier mystic schools. And 
this becomes still plainer to any one who has clearly recognized 
by deeper contemplation the profoundly non-rational elements to 
be found in the very act of faith. 



(I GIVE here a passage from my Leben und Wirken Jesu rele 
vant to this subject, touched upon on p. 176.) 

Jesus begins his work on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and 
the Gospels present us with its main features unmistakably. He 
preaches in the synagogues, in the houses of his friends, on every 
sort of occasion at table and under the open sky, now sojourning 
in one spot, now journeying from place to place. His fame is 
spread abroad especially by means of the mysterious gift of healing 
which is active in him. 

What are we to say of this ? The Jesus who works the miracles 
in the Synoptic narrative is, as we saw above, not the wonder 
worker par excellence, of whom we read in St. John s Gospel or 
whom the traditional view presents to us. But even in those 
passages which can be least impugned by criticism there is some 
thing incommensurable with our rational standards in the setting 
in which we see his figure, and this gift of healing is an example 
of it. The narratives of these acts of healing stand out with such 


an assured and plain simplicity, with a clarity so wellnigh 
disconcerting, that they cannot be the fabrications of legend. We 
have only to read the sober account it is almost like an official 
report of the healing of Peter s wife s mother (Mark i. 29-31), or 
that of the healing of the man with the palsy (Mark ii. 1-12), 
with its concreteness of detail. And it is the same with many 
other cases. The story of the centurion of Capernaum, and Jesus 
astonished wonder at the faith of this Gentile ; the story of the 
woman of Canaan, and of how Jesus, at first reluctant, comes to 
be inwardly won over ; this is not the way of imagination and 
legend. Moreover, there is the fact that we encounter exactly 
similar occurrences among the early Christian communities. 
Even if we are ready to impugn the accounts of Jesus s miracles of 
healing in the Gospels, we cannot impugn the accounts in the 
Pauline epistles of the same thing as happening among the 
Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans, and to Paul himself. Here 
they stand in the full light of history and with the fullest testi 
mony of history. It is quite evident that both Paul and the first 
Christian communities were firmly convinced that they had the 
charismata , the gifts , among them. St. Paul gives, in 1 Cor. 
xii. 4-11, a formal catalogue of these, in which the gifts of healing 
the sick and of the exercise of super-normal physical power and 
other abnormal psychical gilts take their place alongside the gifts 
of tongues and prophecy. No doubt he says (1 Cor. xiii) that 
something is higher and more precious than all gifts , namely, 
the simple Christian virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love, and Love 
the greatest among these . But it is implied thereby that those 
other gifts too are a reality and a present possession. He has 
them in himself and frequently exercises them, and in every 
Christian congregation they make their appearance. In fact we 
have sure historical warrant for holding that gifts of this kind 
were in evidence for a long time beyond the borders of the early 
Church just as, for that matter, we have similar warrant for 
recognizing that analogous phenomena have been since observed 
in other than Christian surroundings. Will this mysterious 
region one day be clearly revealed to us ? We can at any rate 
say this: that our procedure is very uncritical if we propose to 
rule it out as non-existent simply because it does not square with 
our current conceptions of agreement with the natural order . 
Now tho fewer the preconceptions which we bring to our reading 


of the narrative-material of the Gospels, as reviewed and guaran 
teed by a thorough criticism, the stronger becomes the impression 
that in Jesus these powers were present with a rare potency. We 
have in a sense a key to the matter in the peculiar predisposition 
and endowment for their calling which marked the great prophets 
of the Old Testament. What characterized them really was not 
omniscience and not the capacity of predicting a future many 
hundred years distant : it was beyond question in many cases a 
unique power of forefeeling and foreboding impending super 
normal occurrences that threatened to break in upon the natural 
course of events. This gift we have held to be not something 
* supernatural and miraculous in the old sense of the word, i. e. 
something that falls altogether outside all analogies of what 
happens elsewhere ; on the contrary, analogies in plenty for this 
extraordinary prophetic gift are to be found in the phenomena of 
clairvoyance, presentiment, second-sight, &c. Now it is possible 
that the gift of healing of Jesus which appears so puzzling was 
merely a heightened and intense form of capacities which lie 
dormant in human nature in general. But for a manifestation of 
the influence exerted by the psychical upon the physical we need 
in fact go no farther than the power of our will to move our body 
the power, that is, of a spiritual cause to bring about a mechani 
cal effect. There assuredly is an absolutely insoluble riddle, and 
it is only the fact that we have grown so used to it that prevents 
it from seeming a miracle to us. But, this granted, who can 
pronounce beforehand what intenser and heightened manifesta 
tions of this power may not be possible ? Who can presume to 
determine what direct results a will may not achieve which, 
wholly concentrated and at one with itself, rests altogether upon 
God ? We have had in recent years many indications of parallels 
and analogies to the miraculous power of Jesus in the newly- 
discovered methods of suggestion and hypnotism, in telepathy, 
action at a distance , and (in my opinion) animal magnetism. All 
these suppositions may be accepted without misgiving, only with 
this addition, that what Jesus did passed gradually far beyond 
anything known to us in these fields ; and moreover, that Jesus 
whole power grew out of his consciousness of his mission, and his 
will, unusually strong as it was, drew its strength only from his 
religious and moral consciousness, from the fact that he was 
rooted and grounded in God. 


If it be granted that Jesus really had an abnormal power in 
action, it is evident that this very fact would stimulate rumour 
and imagination to exaggeration and embellishment and invention 
of miraculous incident. It is evident that we may quite properly 
approach the miracle narratives with a certain expectation of 
finding such features in them ; and that it will not do, in face 
of some sheer prodigy, to rest content with the mysterious 
gift as a solution to every difficulty. Thus a raising from 
the dead, as that of Lazarus, or a changing of water into wine 
(both stories only in St. John), is excluded from the region of 
the historically conceivable and admissible. And there is in the 
Synoptists also matter enough that passes these limits, e. g. the 
walking on the sea, the feeding of the five thousand, the tale 
of the Gadarene swine. When such stories have been deducted, 
then practically all that is left in the Synoptic narrative are cases 
of healing, though of course some of these are of an astonishing 
character. There are also two cases of raising from the dead 
that of Jairus s daughter and that of the young man of Nain. 
Criticism will be inclined to reject these. It must, however, be 
granted that there is a real difference between these stories and 
that in St. John of the raising of Lazarus. Jairus s daughter had 
not lain three days in the grave, like Lazarus ; she had only lost 
consciousness a short time before the miracle. Where is the 
margin that divides complete death from the last faint glow of 
the spark of life, very likely already passed into unconsciousness? 
May not he who by his will had power to restore a consciousness 
confused by madness have had also the power to arrest a con 
sciousness just vanishing over the borders of life, and even 
awaken again in the body one that has but just vanished ? Here 
the account is strikingly concrete. Even the very words Jesus 
uses to awaken the girl as uttered in Aramaic Talitha Cumi 
are still given in the Aramaic form by the Greek narrator. 
There is nothing grandiose or theatrical, as is customarily the 
case with a miracle designed for display. Jesus only admits 
the most intimate even of his disciples, and the whole incident 
closes with the soberly practical injunction to give the newly 
restored child food, and with the direct prohibition to talk 
further about the event. We have only to compare with this the 
raising of Lazarus ; here is the exact opposite, a genuine miracle 
of display. The wonder-worker designedly delays his arrival, so 


that a miracle becomes necessary ; the whole proceeding, with its 
solemn mise en-scene, takes place in public, and is accompanied by 
a prayer, which is at the same time a sort of address to the sur 
rounding spectators. The act is to be performed expressly 
* because of the people which stand by . This is how a miracle- 
narrative looks when it is the offspring of literary art. The 
raisings from the dead given in St. Mark are quite other than this, 
and consequently a circumspect criticism may perhaps in their 
case suspend judgement. 


Still-born Silence, thou that art 
Flood-gate of the deeper heart. 

I TAKE these lines 1 from a little Quaker book on Silent Worship" 2 
which, recently translated into German, should give the German 
public a good impression of the worship of silent waiting upon 
God which has been a feature of the Quaker community from the 
days of George Fox up to the present day. It is the most spiritual 
form of divine service which has ever been practised, and contains 
an element which no form of worship ought to be without, but 
which, as has been hinted on a former page, is unduly neglected 
in our Protestant devotional life. We must learn it once again 
from the Quakers, and thereby restore to our divine service a 
spirit of consecration the loss of which has cost it dearly. 

Devotional Silence may have a threefold character. There is 
the numinous silence of Sacrament, the silence of Waiting, and the 
silence of Union or Fellowship. 

1. The first of these is that silence meant in the verse of the 
Prophet (Hab. ii. 20), Let all the earth keep silence before him. 

1 They are quoted from Charles Lamb s essay, A Quakers Meeting , 

2 Silent Worship : The Way of Wonder, by Violet Hodgkin. 


Such impressive moments of silence were known not only in the 
worship of Israel but in that of other peoples. They are the 
culminating sacramental point in the worship, denoting as they 
do the instant when God is in the midst , experienced as 
numen praesens . All the preceding part of the service is but 
a preparation for this, a preparation for the moment of which the 
words hold good, Das Unzuliingliche, hier wird s Ereignis, the 
Insufficient here becomes Event . For what was previously only 
possessed in insufficiency, only longed for, now comes upon the 
scene in living actuality, the experience of the transcendent in 
gracious intimate presence, the * Lord s Visitation of His people . 
Such a realization is Sacrament, and what occasions it, attends, 
or prepares for it, must be termed sacramental. Such a silence 
is therefore a sacramental silence. It was found in the forms of 
worship of ancient Israel, and it is found to-day in the Roman 
Mass, in the moment of transubstantiation*. 

2. Next there is the silence of Waiting. The meaning of this 
is primarily other than sacramental. When the Quakers assemble 
for a quiet time together, this is first and foremost a time of 
waiting, and it has in this sense a double value. It means our 
submergence, i. e. inward concentration and detachment from the 
manifold outward distractions ; but this again has value as a 
preparation of the soul to become the pencil of the unearthly 
writer, the bent bow of the heavenly archer, the tuned lyre of 
the divine musician. This silence is, then, primarily not so much 
a dumbness in the presence of Deity, as an awaiting His coming, 
in expectation of the Spirit and its message. But it passes over 
naturally into the Sacramental Silence of which we have spoken. 
And in fact Silent Worship may remain without words from 
first to last it may exclude all utterance of the Spirit s message 
in vocal form, and in that case the worshippers part, as they 
met, without any audible exhortation or thanksgiving. Yet the 
worship need not have been in any way defective, for the silence 
may have been a direct numinous experience, as well as a wait 
ing upon God. Tho Eternal was present in the stillness and His 
presence was palpable without a word spoken. The solemn 
observance of silence became a Sacrament. 

3. The consummation of the Sacrament is the achievement of 
unity, i. e. fellowship and Communion. This third silence is the 
completion of the waiting and the sacramental silences. The Silent 


Worship of the Quakers is in fact a realization of Communion in 
both senses of the word inward oneness and fellowship of the 
individual with invisible present Reality and the mystical union 
of many individuals with one another. In this regard there is 
the plainest inward kinship between the two forms of worship 
which, viewed externally, seem to stand at the opposite poles of 
religious development, viz. the Quaker meeting and the Roman 
Catholic Mass. Both are solemn religious observances of a 
numinous and sacramental character, loth are communion, loth 
exhibit alike an inner straining not only * to realize the presence 
of God, but to attain to a degree of oneness with Him. 


Silent Worship , in the fully-formed character in which the 
Quakers practise it, is not possible in a Church , as we under 
stand the word to-day, but only within the narrower limits of a 
more intimate * Brotherhood of the Spirit . May God grant that 
such a brotherhood may one day arise among us, not as a sect or a 
Church alongside our other Churches, but as a circle of self- 
dedicated enthusiasts, who have rediscovered the ancient heritage 
of the early Church the Spirit and its sevenfold gifts ! 

But if the Quaker Silence is excluded, still less is any imitation 
of the Sacramental Silence in the form of the Catholic Mass 
possible in our Protestant services. All that tends in this direc 
tion is bound to go astray. The Communion Service does, it is 
true, celebrate Christ s Passion, that event which in all world 
history is the numinous event par excellence, the entry of the 
divine in fullest and loftiest presence upon the human scene. But 
the Communion Service is emphatically not a Mass, and the Mass 
has grown to be a distortion of its true form. The Communion 
Service is, in the original intention of its first celebration or insti 
tution, not a piece of public ceremonial at all, far less a drama to 
be performed by one or at most a few participants in the presence 
of spectators, but a tender mystery, restricted to a fellowship of 
brothers, pertaining to a special time and hour, and needing 
particular preparation in short, something that should be pre 
cious and rare. For Protestants it is to be kept entirely apart from 
the regular and congregational Divine Service, and should be 
reserved for particular feasts, for celebration at evening or in the 


night stillness. It ought to be withdrawn .altogether from the use 
and wont of every day and become the most intimate privilege 
which Christian worship has to offer. 

But though these two means are excluded, it is yet possible to 
find another way to introduce Silent Worship into our ordinary 
Sunday services, and so to give these a consecration which is as 
yet lacking to them. We can make the service culminate and 
find its climax in a short period of silence, which shall be at once 
the silence of sacrament and the silence of waiting, and which 
may become, at least for the more practical, also a realization of 
union. Wo may devise an opportunity of silent dedication which 
will avoid the ceremonial apparatus and mythology of the doctrine 
of Traiisubstantiation. , and yet in its simplicity and pure 
spirituality may be more deeply sacramental than the Mass, for 
which many are again beginning to crave. We have only to 
follow the indications afforded by the example of the Silent 
Worship of the Quakers. 

Whore lies the essence of the sacramental ? It is in fact in 
the expression of the English High Churchmen the real pre 
sence , the real presence of the transcendent and holy in its very 
nature in adoration and fellowship, so as to be laid hold of and 
enjoyed in present possession. No form of devotion which does 
not offer or achieve this mystery for the worshipper can be per 
fect or can give lasting contentment to a religious mind. And it 
is just because our usual Divine Services fall short in this that we 
see to-day again quite comprehensibly such a ferment and 
stirring of all sorts of uneasy High Church , * Ritualistic , and 
4 Sacramental movements. 

But we may well be asked has it any meaning to ask for 
the presence of the divine ? Does not that Sacramental idea at 
once cancel itself, when thought out? Is not God omnipresent 
and really present always and everywhere ? 

Such a view ia often put forward, and with a confident air of 
assurance which is in sharp conflict with the testimony of genuine 
religious experience; so much so, indeed, that one is tempted to 
venture a very blunt reply to it. We say, then, that this doctrine 
of the omnipresence of God as though by a necessity of His being 
He must be bound to every time and to every place, like a natural 
force pervading space is a frigid invention of metaphysical 
speculation, entirely without religious import. Scripture knows 


nothing of it. Scripture knows no * Omnipresence , neither the 
expression nor the meaning it expresses ; it knows only the God 
who is where He wills to be, and is not where He wills not to 
be, the deus mobilis , who is no mere universally extended 
being, but an august mystery, that comes and goes, approaches 
and withdraws, has its time and hour, and may be far or near in 
infinite degrees, closer than breathing to us or miles remote 
from us. The hours of His visitation and His return are rare 
and solemn occasions, different essentially not only from the 
profane life of every day, but also from the calm confiding 
mood of the believer, whose trust is to live ever before the face of 
God. They are the topmost summits in the life of the Spirit. 
They are not only rare occasions, they must needs be so for our 
sakes, for no creature can bear often or for long the full nearness 
of God s majesty in its beatitude and in its awefulness. Yet there 
must still be such times, for they show the bright vision and com 
pletion of our sonship, they are a bliss in themselves and potent 
for redemption. They are the real sacrament, in comparison with 
which all high official ceremonials, Masses, and rituals the world 
over become the figurings of a child. And a Divine Service would 
be the truest which led up to such a mystery and the riches of 
grace that ensue upon the realization of it. And if it be asked 
whether a Divine Service is able to achieve this, let us answer 
that, though God indeed comes where and when He chooses, yet 
He will choose to come when we sincerely call upon Him and 
prepare ourselves truly for His visitation. 



MY attention has been called by Professor Deutschbein to the 
following passage in Ruskin, in which he recounts experiences of 
his youth that repeatedly recurred. They are purely numinous 
in character and wellnigh all the moments which we discovered 
reappear here quite spontaneously. I give the passage without 
detailed comment : 

Lastly, although there was no definite religious sentiment 
mingled with it, there was a continual perception of Sanctity in 
the whole of nature, from the slightest thing to the vastest ; an 
instinctive awe, mixed with delight ; an indefinable thrill, such 
as we sometimes imagine to indicate the presence of a disembodied 
spirit. I could only feel this perfectly when I was alone ; and 
then it would often make me shiver from head to foot with the 
joy and fear of it, when after being some time away from hills I 
first got to the shore of a mountain river, where the brown water 
circled among the pebbles, or when I first saw the swell of distant 
land against the sunset, or the first low broken wall, covered with 
mountain moss. I cannot in the least describe the feeling ; but I 
do not think this is my fault, nor that of the English language, 
for I am afraid no feeling is describable. If we had to explain 
even the sense of bodily hunger to a person who had never felt it, 
we should be hard put to it for words ; and the joy in nature 
seemed to me to come of a sort of heart-hunger, satisfied with the 
presence of a Great and Holy Spirit. . . . These feelings remained 
in their full intensity till I was eighteen or twenty, and then, as 
the reflective and practical power increased, and the " cares of this 
world" gained upon me, faded gradually away, in the manner 
described by Wordsworth in his "Intimations of Immortality ". 
{Modern Painters, Popular Edition, vol. iii, p. 309. George Allen.) 
Schleiermacher calls such an experience intuition and feeling of 
the infinite ; wo give it the name divination . Schleiermacher 
was right in saying that even greater than all this divination in 
the sphere of nature is divination in the sphere of history. Will 
not a Ruskin arise to divine and reveal the non-rational and 
numinous character of our own epoch? 



ALTHOUGH it could hardly be disputed that the German philo 
sophical vocabulary is superior to the English both in fullness and 
in precision, in regard to the subjects discussed in this book our 
language does not seem to be altogether at a disadvantage. 
Indeed, the English wealth of synonyms has presented the trans 
lator with an embarrassment at the very outset. In place of the 
single German adjective lieilig, with its derivative noun and verb, 
we have the words sacred and holy, sacredness, holiness and sanctity, 
hallow and sanctify. G-ottheit again gives us a triad of synonyms, 
deity, divinity, Godhead. Each of these alternatives is probably 
the most appropriate rendering in some special context, and in 
choosing any one of them we are bound to sacrifice subtle differ 
ences in meaning which would be suggested by the others, and 
which are perhaps implicit in the single German equivalent. The 
deciding factor in the choice of holy rather than sacred as the 
regular rendering of lieilig was the fact that it is the Biblical word, 
found especially in those great passages (e. g. Isaiah vi) of which 
this book makes repeated use, and which seem central to its argu 
ment. Holy will be felt, I believe, to be a distinctly more 
1 numinous word than sacred : it retains about it more markedly 
the numinous atmosphere. And although, as is urged in the text 
with perhaps still more reason of its German equivalent, it refers 
mainly to the higher levels of religious experience at which the 
numinous has been interpreted in rational and moral terms, and 
therefore means to us mainly goodness, the word holy is found 
also in contexts where this more exalted meaning is excluded, and 
where it is simply the numinous at an early and savage stage of 
development. The well-known lines from Coleridge s Kulla Khan 
give an example of such a use : 

A savage place ! as holy and enchanted 

As e er beneath a waning moon was haunted 

By woman wailing for her demon-lover ! 

This is a finely numinous passage, but it is the numinous at the 
primitive, pre-religious, * daemonic level : it conveys nothing of 

1 Added by the translator. 


sanctity. For, while the daring use of holy in this context may 
be just permissible, we reserve sanctity , if I mistake not, for the 
more restricted and elevated meaning. 

Apart from these words it would appear that the English lan 
guage is in general rich in numinous terms. Dr. Otto has him 
self noted (p. 14) that the English awe has a numinous suggestion 
lacking in the German scheu , and (p. 131 n.) that haunt has no 
precise German equivalent in all its range of significance. And 
besides uncanny (a more or less exact rendering of unlicimlich) 
I have made use of words like weird and eerie, which convey the 
indefinable numinous atmosphere unmistakably. The old word 
freit (a supernatural intimation or sign) may be another such ; 
and possibly the obsolete verb-form oug, which gives us ugly, 
may have conveyed originally a suggestion of unnatural, uncanny, 
daunting or repulsion. It should be noticed that these numinous 
words are all (except awe ) concerned primarily with the cruder 
and more primitive forms of the experience : they are not in the 
first instance religious words in the higher sense, though, unlike such 
words as gnte, grisly, and ghastly, they can be used with a 
loftier and more ennobled, as well as with a lower and more 
primitive meaning. And it can, finally, be hardly an accident 
that they all, or nearly all, are northern in origin. A peculiar 
susceptibility to numinous impressions what Dr. Otto would call 
a peculiarly sensitive faculty of divination would seem, indeed, 
to be a characteristic of the North British. Such phenomena as 
those of Clairvoyance and Second-sight would seem to make for the 
same conclusion. 

Apart from the expressiveness of single English words, it would 
be easy to amass from English poetry and prose alike passages 
(like that from Coleridge already quoted) illustrative of the different 
elements in numinous apprehension which have been discussed in 
this book. I venture to give three further citations. 

On page 193 the contrast between the piety in which the 
rational moments predominate and that in which a more 
numinous feeling is to be noted is illustrated from two German 
hymns of praise. 

The same antithesis could hardly be shown more clearly than 
by the contrast between two poems familiar to every English 
reader, Addison s hymn based on Psalm xix, and Blake s poem 
The Tyger . Both poets are hymning the Creator as revealed in 


his creation, but the difference of temper is unmistakable. On the 
one hand there is the mood of tranquil confidence, serene dignity, 
thankful and understanding praise ; on the other, a mood of 
trepidation, awed surmise, the hush of mystery, in which rings 
none the less a strange exultation. 

The spacious firmament on high 

With all the blue ethereal sky, 

And spangled heavens, a shining frame, 

Their great Original proclaim. 

The unwearied sun, from day to day, 

Does his Creator s power display 

And publishes to every land 

The work of an Almighty hand. 

Soon as the evening shades prevail 

The moon takes up the wondrous tale 

And nightly to the listening earth 

Repeats the story of her birth ; 

While all the stars that round her burn, 

And all the planets in their turn, 

Confirm the tidings as they roll 

And spread the truth from pole to pole. 

What though in solemn silence all 

Move round the dark terrestrial ball ; 

What though no real voice or sound 

Amid their radiant orbs be found ? 

In reason s ear they all rejoice, 

And utter forth a glorious voice ; 

For ever singing as they shine : 

The hand that made us is Divine. 

This is, confessedly, rational piety ; it is reason that listens to 
nature s hymn of praise. As such it is characteristic not only of 
a certain type of mind, but of the particular age in which it was 
written. And the contrasted numinous note can hardly be missed 
in Blake s wonderful verses : 

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright 

In the forests of the night, 

What immortal hand or eye 

Could frame thy fearful symmetry ? 

In what distant deeps or skies 

Burnt the fire of thine eyes? 

On what wings dare he aspire ? 

What the hand dare seize the fire ? 

And what shoulder and what art 

Could twist the sinews of thy heart ? 

And, when thy heart began to beat, 

What dread hand and what dread feet? 


What the hammer? What the chain? 
In what furnace was thy brain ? 
What the anvil ? What dread grasp 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp ? 

When the stars threw down their Bpears, 
And watered heaven with their tears, 
Did he smile his work to see? 
Did he who made the lamb make thee ? 

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright 
In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry ? 

The remark of the author on page 221 suggests my last quota 
tion. Wordsworth, in the tenth book of The Prelude, recounts 
the profound impression made upon him by the terrific events in 
which the French Kevolution culminated. Then, as now, out 
ward convulsion and catastrophe had their inward counterpart in 
spiritual tumult and overthrow, in widespread disillusionment 
and despair. And Wordsworth tells us in effect how the very 
tremendousness of the time, its portentousness , became to him 
a revelation of the sustaining presence of the holy and the divine 
(see The Prelude, x. 437-4G9) : 

. . . So, with devout humility be it said, 

So, did a portion of that spirit fall 

On me uplifted from the vantage-ground 

Of pity and sorrow to a state of being 

That through the time s exceeding fierceness saw 

Glimpses of retribution, terrible, 

And in the order of sublime behests : 

But, even if that were not, amid the awe 

Of unintelligible chastisement, 

Not only acquiescences of faith 

Survived, but daring sympathies with power, 

Motions not treacherous or profane, else why 

Within the folds of no ungentle breast 

Their dread vibration to this hour prolonged ? . . . 

Then was the truth received into my heart, 

That, under heaviest sorrow earth can bring, 

If from the affliction somewhere do not grow 

Honour which could not else have been, a faith, 

An elevation, and a sanctity, 

If new strength be not given nor old restored, 

The blame ia ours, not Nature s. 




A profound expression of the Mysterium Tremendum may be 
found in the sermon of F. W. Robertson on Jacob s Wrestling ; 
(Ten Sermons ), point 2, The revelation of mystery. 

It was revealed by dive. Very significantly are we told that 
the divine antagonist seemed, as it were, anxious to depart as the 
day was about to dawn ; and that Jacob held Him more con 
vulsively fast, as if aware that the daylight was likely to rob 
him of his anticipated blessing : in which there seems concealed 
a very deep truth. God is approached more nearly in that which 
is indefinite than in that which is definite and distinct. He is 
felt in awe, and wonder and ivorsliip rather than in clear conception. 
There is a sense in which darkness has more of God than light 
has. He dwells in the thick darkness. Moments of tender, 
vague mystery often bring distinctly the feeling of His presence. 
When day breaks and distinctness comes the Divine has evapo 
rated from the soul like morning dew. In sorrow, haunted by 
uncertain presentiments, we feel the infinite around us. The 
gloom disperses, the world s joy comes again, and it seems as if 
God were gone the Being who had touched us with a withering 
hand and wrestled with us, yet whose presence, even when most 
terrible, was more blessed than His absence. It is true, even 
literally, that the darkness reveals God: every morning God 
draws the curtain of the garish light across His eternity, and we 
lose the Infinite. We look down on earth instead of up to 
heaven, on a narrower and more contracted spectacle that which 
is examined by the microscope when the telescope is laid aside 
smallness, instead of vastness. "Man goeth forth unto his work 
and to his labour till the evening " ; and in the dust and pettiness 
of life we seem to cease to behold Him : then at night He un 
draws the curtain again, and we see how much of God and 
Eternity the bright distinct day has hidden from us. Yes, in 
solitary, silent, vague darkness, the Awful One is near . 

Names have a power, a strange power of hiding God. 


Who does not know how we satisfy ourselves with the name 
of some strange bird or plant, or the name of some new law in 
nature? It is a mystery perplexing us before. We get the name 
and fancy we understand something more than we did before ; 
but in truth we are more hopelessly ignorant : for before we felt 
there was a something we had not attained, and so we inquired 
and searched now, we fancy we possess it, because we have got 
the name by which it is known : and the word covers over the 
abyss of our ignorance. If Jacob had got a word, that word 
might have satisfied him. . . . God s plan was not to give names 
and words, but truths of feeling. That night, in that strange 
scene, He impressed on Jacob s soul a religious awe, which was 
hereafter to develop not a set of formal expressions, which would 
have satisfied with husks the craving of the intellect and shut up 
the soul: Jacob felt the Infinite, who is more truly felt when 
least named. 

The following hymn of Watts expresses the numinous feeling 
more adequately than many that are more familiar. 

Eternal Power, whose high abode 
Becomes the grandeur of a God, 
Infinite length beyond the bounds 
Where stars revolve their little rounds : 
Thee while the first Archangel sings, 
He hides his face beneath his wings ; 
And ranks of shining ones around 
Fall worshipping and spread the ground. 
Lord, what shall earth and ashes do ? 
We would adore our Maker too : 
From Sin and dust to Thee we cry, 
The Great, the Holy, and the High I 
Earth from afar has heard thy fame 
And we have learned to lisp Thy name ; 
But oh the glories of Thy mind 
Leave all our soaring thoughts behind. 
God is in Heaven, and men below ; 
Be short our tunes, our words be few ; 
A sacred reverence checks our songs, 
And praise sits silent on our tongues. 



I "know that my Redeemer liveth * : I lelieve in Jesus Christ, 
risen from the dead : such is the Christian s confession. 

I know and * I believe or have faith these are not here 
mutually exclusive expressions. This knowing is not that with 
which scientific theory is concerned, based upon empirical sense- 
knowledge ; it is rather faith-knowledge, and faith-knowledge does 
not rely on the evidence of the senses, but is, in the scriptural 
phrase, the evidence of things not seen , that is, not presented 
to sense-perception ; and it would lose its essential nature and be 
transformed into a mere sorry empirical knowledge, if it relied on 
any other evidence than the witness of the Holy Spirit , which 
is not that of sense-experience. And so we cannot afford to account 
Christ s resurrection, and our own, known facts, in this lower 
scientific sense of knowledge. The simplest understanding 
feels this. To speak of resurrection is to utter a mystery, and 
mystery is a subject for faith, not science. And, for Christianity, 
how this faith itself comes to be is no less a mystery, indeed the 
greatest of all mysteries. But if faith were knowledge, directly 
attested by the senses or based upon the tradition of a former 
occurrence attested by the senses, this mystery would wholly 

And so we hold that in endeavouring to account for our assur 
ance of the Risen Christ two sorts of interpretation must be 
excluded, the naively supernaturalistic and the rationalistic. 
The former is that which has recourse to the * Empty Tomb . It 
holds that Christ s tomb was proved to be empty by the evidence 
of the senses, that the Risen Christ was perceived by the senses, 
and that the truth of the facts so certified in sense-experience was 
then handed down by human testimony. On this view the con 
viction of the resurrection was from the first not faith, but a piece 
of empirical knowledge. This is the most serious objection that 
can be brought against the naive supernaturalist interpretation, 
a more serious objection than the uncertain and legendary char- 


acter of the Empty Tomb narrative or the fact that the earliest 
and most authentic witness to the resurrection of Christ that of 
St. Paul in 1 Cor. xv makes no mention of the empty tomb, 
although there the Apostle is at pains to assemble all possible 
reasons for assurance in the reality of the Resurrection. 

But the ordinary rationalistic interpretation is equally inad 
missible. A deep impression of the person of Jesus had remained, 
so it is said, with the disciples and especially with Peter, and from 
this impression grew their conviction after His death, Such an 
one cannot have remained dead . And this conviction, thus born 
in their minds, took imaginative and figurative form in visions, 
which must therefore be regarded as purely subjective. But this 
explanation is patently forced and unsatisfactory, and seems to us 
to miss altogether the uniqueness and coherence of the experience 
centring in the Resurrection. The two lines of interpretation 
have this in common, however: they both entirely ignore the 
fundamental fact about the experience, that it was a mystery ; 
both agree in disregarding altogether its mystery character. 

We can only get beyond the opposition between supernaturalism 
and rationalism by frankly recognizing that the experiences con 
cerned with the Resurrection were mystical experiences and their 
source the Spirit . It is only * of the Spirit that the higher 
knowledge is born. It is the eye of Spirit, not the eye of sense 
that beholds the eternal things ; but what it sees is not a mere 
insecure, half-w r oven fabric of * convictions , but the adamantine 
certainty of the eternal truth itself! 


To understand the matter truly we need to make clear to our 
selves by examples drawn from occurrences in the Bible record to 
what more general class of experience those that are concerned 
with the Resurrection belong, and then to grasp what the essential 
character of this wider class is. Isaiah tells (ch. vi) how in that 
mysterious experience in the Temple his inward eye was opened 
to behold Yahweh in His holiness and majesty, how he received 
His command and became thereby the messenger of Yahweh to 
His people. This supreme, mysterious vision becomes thus for 
Isaiah his summons and his ordination, and his whole subsequent 
activity as prophet in its wider significance is founded upon this 


experience. And the occurrence is not one without a parallel, 
but rather is typical of all the great men who received God s 
summons (compare Jer. i, Ezek. i and ii, Amos i, Hosea i). 

But what really took place in these mystical experiences ? Has 
God a body ? Is He really seated upon a throne, or has He any 
place in a physical sense ? Do beings such as the Cherubim and 
Seraphim are described surround Him in visible form ? Has He 
a voice audible to our actual sense of hearing ? Even those who, 
so far as concerns the Resurrection of Christ, think to base their 
faith upon an actually perceived Empty Tomb and a Body \vhich, 
however transfigured , yet remained an object to see and touch 
even they will answer these questions with a decided negative as 
regards the vision of Isaiah. Even they will admit that these 
forms of imagery, in which the experience of Isaiah clothes itself, 
are nothing more than forms of imagery, born of the ideas of the 
time and merely a vesture for something seen and apprehended 
by other means than by stimulation of the senses, with which it 
indeed has nothing to do. 

On the other side, the naturalistic rationalist will set up some 
sort of plausible psychological * explanation , differing according 
to the empirical psychology that is at his disposal ; or, resorting 
to a still simpler mode of explanation, he will be inclined to say 
that such occurrences never occurred at all. But whoever knows 
anything of the Spirit and its miraculous nature, whoever feels 
in himself the Spirit active in those mysterious experiences that 
build up the Christian s life, will reject such explanations. He 
alone has the key to the truth of the matter. Just as the 
Scriptures as a whole, as the Christian believes, require the Spirit 
if they are to be taught or understood, so too is it with these 
occurrences. Only a first-hand spiritual experience teaches a man 
to see and enables him to estimate a spiritual experience of a 
former day. Possession of the Spirit at first hand becomes here 
a faculty of retrospective prophecy , which is recognition in the 
sense of re-cognition or knowing again for oneself. And so only 
on the basis of a first-hand religious experience, of and from the 
Spirit, is there any possibility of obtaining a real and genuine 
historical knowledge of these things, for only such an experience 
is acquainted with and can estimate the effect of all the factors of 
the explanation. What the Spirit gives is not a view that tran 
scends the historical, but the genuine historical view. And the 


naturalistic view gives on the other hand a falsification of history, 
for it has ignored an essential part of the facts it seeks to explain. 


Let us now turn to the New Testament. Once we have come 
to understand aright, that is, in the Spirit, the experiences of the 
great prophets, we can recognize plainly how similar they are to 
the narratives of the great visions of Jesus at the outset and at 
the full height of His ministry the vision at His Baptism and the 
vision at His Transfiguration . As with the prophets, so with 
Jesus : these, too, are manifestly spiritual and mystical experi 
ences ; but these, too, were objectively real occurrences. And 
they are also to be counted as belonging to the same class of 
experiences for the reason that they too are manifestly visions of 
Call and Ordination. As before, we do not doubt that all that is 
recounted in perceptual terms stands upon just the same footing as 
the perceptual imagery that invests the mystical experience of 
Isaiah, the essential and unshakeable truth of which lies not in 
that vesture, but in the knowledge and assurance born of the 
Spirit . 

And if we pass on to the Resurrection-experience of Paul on the 
road to Damascus, do we not at once recognize the same charac 
teristic features ? Have we here sense-perception or spiritual 
experience ? Paul nowhere describes how and in what form he 
beheld the Risen Christ. That does not in itself make it the 
less likely that he did see Him in some form, probably as a royal 
figure of radiant glory rather than merely as a dazzling light. 
The material of his vision was no doubt supplied him by the 
current ideas of his time concerning royal splendour and messianic 
kinghood, and then his faculty of vision gave this material an 
individual and special form. That is but to say that the vision 
would have a vesture of outward form just as that of Isaiah did ; 
but this does not, for Paul any more than for Isaiah, touch the 
inmost import of the experience, which is here : He lives ; He 
lives as the accepted of God, the preserved of God, the exalted of 
God, the transfigured of God, as the conqueror of Judgement, of 
the Cross, and of Death. And at the same time that further 
point of resemblance with the occurrences already mentioned is 
manifest, which, strangely enough, is here not generally noticed. 


For this vision of Paul, like those others, is not merely a vision 
of the Risen Christ, but again precisely inaugural, a vision of 
Calling and Ordination. 

At the same time this experience of Paul has its place among 
a second class of experiences, which in turn stand fully illumined 
in the Pauline writings. For it is but the first link in a whole 
chain of spiritual happenings which develop in him and in his 
congregations. These are the charismata or gifts of the Spirit , 
and among them is included the gift of horasis * or mystic vision 
which Paul himself possessed. And what took place on the road 
to Damascus is not only the first link in the chain, but more 
fundamental and potent than all that followed. There it was 
that the pneuma * first broke through, the Spirit which man 
makes not nor can bestow upon himself, which blows whither it 
lists, and kindles what it wills, and whose * prick was already 
felt in Paul s heart. 

Paul puts his experience on a parity with those of Peter and 
others, an indication that these also were of the same class as his 
own. And we could ourselves recognize as much even without 
Paul s express testimony. According to Paul s statement Peter 
was the first to receive the new revelation of the Risen Christ, 
and what we know otherwise of Peter is in accord with this. 
He has the gift of * vision , as the story in Acts x shows, and it 
had been manifested more than once while his Master was still 
on earth, as at the time of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. 
And the Synoptic record gives other more general indications of 
his rare spiritual endowment. Further, for Peter and the others 
to whom the experience came, the vision of the Risen Christ is 
once again an inaugural experience of Call and Ordination, as is 
indicated in the words, Go ye therefore and teach all nations , 
which we are to take as a spiritual realization of mission just in 
the same way as the command of Yahweh to Isaiah : * Go and tell 
this people , and which, no less than the experience of the 
prophets, attest themselves as having been really * heard in 
spiritual perception at a definite place and time. And again in 
the case of these original witnesses to the Resurrection, the vision 
of the Risen Christ is no more an isolated experience than in the 
case of Paul. For Paul and his converts are not the first to 
receive the Spirit and its sevenfold gifts. These gifts are the 
possession of the earliest Christian community from the first, and 


characterize it, as Paul himself avows, when he justifies his 
position as an apostle in showing that he and his converts also 
possess the same spiritual gifts which the Christians of Jerusalem 
had from the first. 

And so the consciousness of the Risen Christ loses its isolated 
character and is already manifested as one of a class of spiritual 
experiences, a mystical and spiritual apprehension of truth, 
beyond the opposition of supernaturalism and rationalism. 


The apostles proclaim their Lord not only as raised from the 
dead , but as exalted and ascended* into heaven. That is in 
harmony with the picture of the universe which they shared with 
antiquity as a whole. But whoever thinks it necessary to retain 
the bodily, physical idea in raised from the dead ought to 
realize that he is bound to do the same with the expression 
4 exalted . For that also conveys in its literal sense a spatial idea ; 
it presupposes the old notion that Heaven , God s eternal realm, 
is somewhere high above us in space. This notion was natural 
enough in antiquity ; but for us heaven and the eternal world of 
God is no more in space or time than God Himself is : it is in 
God s eternity, which is apart from space and time. This does 
not at all mean that the expressions resurrection , raising from 
the dead , lose their meaning. In contrast to the idea of 
immortality , which properly is the denial of any state of real 
death, they affirm the restoration from real death to real life, or 
rather the admittance for the first time into plenary and genuine 
life. Nor have they in the Biblical view reference solely to the 
body. It is not the body merely, but the man that dies ; and it 
is as soul as well as body that he sinks into the state of death, 1 the 
dread night of death , from which he can only be delivered and 

1 To die is to lose not being but life. The fleshly body does not cease 
at first to be but to exercise the function we call living . . . . And so the 
eoul sinks not into not-being, nonentity, but into death, i.e. the cessation 
of its living function. Thin state is spoken of in Scripture as passing 
into Hades (wrongly rendered Hell ) and is compared to sleep, which 
is essentially life whose potentiality has been suspended. A closer analogy 
still to the tate of soul-death is that of cataleptic lethargy or impotence. 
We have to think of the condition of the soul sundered from the organ 
necessary to its essential nature as that of utter impotence, deprivation 
of life but not of being. 


raised up by the power of God. If he is to live, man needs to be 
thus awakened, brought up out of Hades and from the shadow of 
death, and raised again from the dead . To be sure, according 
to Paul s idea, there is combined with this at the same time 
a bodily restoration. But, as is often noticed, this is for him not 
a raising up of the old body, a * resurrection of the flesh . Rather 
he would on his own presuppositions have emphatically rejected 
such a notion ; for the flesh which is for him the essence of 
antagonism to God is to pass away like the seed of corn sown 
in the earth, and the resurrection of the body is for him rather 
the bestowal of a new and quite other l spiritual body, provided 
and prepared of God. This is also the direction in which our 
thought must turn if we are to attempt to represent to ourselves 
the new life of the resurrection. We too are unable to think of 
the completed perfected life of the Spirit without ascribing to the 
Spirit some instrument or organ whereby it realizes itself in 
practice. Now l body is the instrument of spirit, and the phrase 
spiritual body affirms in an unambiguous manner that this 
instrument is not a fleshly body, not even * transfigured flesh a 
contradiction in itself but is itself spiritual in kind. And that 
implies that it is not bound up with any one point in space or 
time, and so is in no sense a physical body, which cannot be 
severed from material and spatial determination. 

But whatever our thought may be upon this matter, one thing 
at any rate holds good : the meaning of the Christian knowledge 
that is by Faith lies in this, that Christ Himself who really died 
was brought again by God to real life and perfected unto the 
glory of the eternal life of God ; and that we live in expectation 
of the same with Him. This is a * knowing which, for us to-day 
no less than for the apostles, can be born of the Spirit, but only 
of the Spirit. Whether the body belongs to the being of this 
Christ and to our own completed being is a physiological not a 
religious question, and one which pertains not at all to our con 
fession of faith. But to any one who has to meet this issue we 
would say, the Risen Christ is to be our comfort , not a source 
of trouble in our conscientious fidelity to truth ; and for a true 
understanding of the experiences bearing on the Resurrection we 
would refer him to the nature of spiritual revelation as recounted 
in Isaiah vi. 

As regards the narratives of the Empty Tomb , we shall 


judge of these as of the narratives of a later date which gathered 
about the birth of Jesus, appraising them as a holy legend, in 
which the supra-rational relation of the eternal to the temporal 
is mirrored in the medium of contemporary thought. They have 
an enduring value to us from the incomparable beauty and power 
with which they symbolize the essence of the mystery . We 
would not be without them in our Bible, nor yet in the pictorial 
art of the churches, nor in the hymns that express our devotion. 
And we can retain them thus without being false to the obligation 
of the most rigid honesty if we remain fully conscious of that 
other obligation, without fulfilling which we neither can nor 
indeed should have either Biblical instruction or Christian doctrine. 
And that is the obligation we are under to train ourselves and the 
mind of our time to a sincere and devout understanding of three 
things. In the first place we need to realize the fringe of legend 
that surrounds the entire narrative of Holy Scripture and recurs 
as a constant problem from the first page of the Bible to the last. 
Secondly, we need to appreciate the signal value and beauty and 
the profound import which distinguish the Biblical narrative, even 
where it is of the nature of legend ; and, finally, the fact that 
even in the holy saga and legend, shaped and fashioned uncon 
sciously by the spirit of a people or a fellowship, there is present 
the vt ry same eternal Spirit of God, which Hebrew prophecy and 
poetry and history also manifest, that Spirit which, in every form 
of its expression, is the Spirit of revelation and truth. 



i. What is Sin? 

ii. The Battle between Flesh and Spirit, 
in. The Christian Idea of Lostness . 
iv. The Religious Idea of Original Guilt. 
v. The Prophets Experience of God. 
vi. The Lord s Supper as a Numinous Fact. 


vii. Towards a Liturgical Keform. 

1. A Form of Divine Service. 

2. A Form for Celebrating the Lord s Supper. 


viu. How Schleiermacher Rediscovered the Sensus Numinis. 

ix. The Wholly Other* in Religious History and Theology. 

x. Parallels and Convergences in the History of Religion, 

xi. A Universal Religion (?). 

xn. Darwinism and Religion. 


xin. The Common Tasks of Protestantism, 
xiv. An Inter-religious League. 



Adbhuta, 133. 

Addison, J. (quoted), 224. 

Aesthetic judgement, the, 138, 148, 

15-2 ff., 165. 
Ahndung, 1">0. 
Ahura-Uazda, 133, 204. 
Allah, numinous character of, 77, 

92, 94. 

Amor Mys icus, 107-8, 209 ff. 
Amos, 115, 141. 
Anselm, 55 n. 
Aristotle, 97, 93, 119n. 
Arndt, Joliann, 108, 211. 
Arnold, Gottfried, 108. 
Art, expression of the Numinous 

in, 68-73. 
Atcarya, 195. 
Asura, 132. 
Atman, 199ff. 
Atonement, the doctrine of, its 

numinous character, 56 ff. 
Augustine, St., 28 n., 97, 142 n., 200. 


Bach, J. S., 72. 

Beautiful, the, and the Holy, 138, 

148, 152, 165. 
Bergson, 112 n. 
Bernard, St., of Cluny, 84. 
Bt-sant, Mrs., 112. 
Bhagarad-Gita, the, 65, 109, 191 ff., 

Blake, Wm. (quoted), 224. 

Boehme, Jacob, 38; on wrath of 

God, 110 ft". 
Brahman, Brahmanism, 133, 196 ff, 


Buddha (Gautama), 67. 
Buddhism, 30, 89, 69. 


Catherine, St., of Genoa, 38. 
Chinese art, its numinous character. 
69, 71. 

Chrysostom, St., 84, 183-90. 

Coleridge, 222. 

Confucius, 76. 

Creature-feeling , 9 ff., 20 ff., 52 ff., 

92 ff. 
Cross, the, 177. 


Daemon, the daemonic , 15, 16, 28, 
126 ff., 129, 203; (in Goethe), 
155 ff. 

Dead, worship of the, 123. 

Determinism, its difference from pre 
destination, 92. 

Do Wette, W., on Ahndung, 150, 151. 

Dionysius the Areopagite, 97. 

Divination , as a faculty, 148 ff. 

DunsScotus, 100. 

Durga, 64, 109. 

Eckermann, Talks with Goethe quoted, 

154ff., 194 n. 
Eckhart, Meister, 110, 111, 201, 206, 

Election, doctrine of, its numinous 

character, 90 ff. 
Elohim, significance of the name, 76, 


Epigenesis, 44, 116, 118. 
Erasmus, 24, 101. 
Evolution, meaning of, 44 ff., 118 ff., 


Eyth, Max (quoted), 83. 
Ezt-kiel, 79. 


Fairy stories, 126. 

Faith, its meaning for Luther, 107-8, 

142ff.,207, 209 ff. 
Fichte, 24. 

Fries, J. P., 150, 151. 
Fundus anitnat, 116, 120 n., 199, 200. 


Gellert, C. F., 198. 
Gerhardt, Joliann, 112. 



Geulincx, 93. 

Ghost stories and ghosts, 15, 16,28, 

29, 131. 
Goethe, 24,40, 112 n. ; < divination of 

the daemonic in, 154 ff. ; on God, 

194 n. ; (quoted), 1, 41, 153. 
Gothic, its numinous character, 70. 
Grace , numinous significance of, 

32 ff., 145. 

Gregory of Nyssa, 190, 195. 
Guyon, Madame, 211. 


Hackmann, H., on Taoism, 206. 
Harnack, A., on Marcion, 190. 
Haunted places, 130 ff. 
Hegel, 96, 111. 
Heracleitus, 201. 
Hugo of St. Victor, 52 n. 


Ignatius (Loyola), 211. 

Isaiah, 52, 63, 65, 78, 177, 207, 227, 

Islam, its conception of Allah, 77, 
92 ; of predestination, 94 ; of sal 
vation, 170. 


James, William : The Varieties of Reli 
gious Experience (quoted), 10 n., 38, 
55 n. 

Jel-aleddin, 198 n. 

Jeremiah, 177. 

Jesus Christ; the paradox of His 
gospel, 85 ff. ; the supreme object 
of divination , 159 ff., 172 If. ; His 
miracles, 212 ff. 

Job, The Book of, on the myste 
rious , 80 ff., 104, 155, 177, 205. 

Johann von Knstl, 209, 210. 

John, St., 95, 96, 205. 

John Baptist, St., 86. 

John of the Cross, St., 109, 211. 


Kant, 5, 46 ; Critique of Pure .Reason, 
116ff. ; Critique of Judgement, 65, 
152 ; Lectures on Psychology (quoted), 
120 n. 

Kena-Upanishad, the, 196, 201. 

Lactantius, 23 n., 99, 111. 
Lang, Andrew, 133. 
Lange, E., 193. 
Leibniz, 90, 119n. 
Lucifer, significance of, 110 n. 
Luiz, Thomas, 73. 

Luther, 15, 100 ; on miracles, 67 ; 
on wrath of God, 101 ff., Ill; 
His mystery , 104 ff. ; His fasci 
nation , 106; meaning of faith 
for, 107, 141 ff., 207, 209 ff.; on 
deus absconditus , 139; De Servo 
Arbitrio, 24, 101 ff. ; On the Liberty of 
a Christian, 211 ; Table Talk, 142 n. 


Magic, a form of the numinous, 121 ; 
in art, 68-70. 

Mana, 125. 

Marcion, 190. 

Marett, R. K. : The Threshold of Religion, 
15 n., 20 n., 76 n. 

Mass, the, numinous moments in, 
67, 72, 218. 

Mendelssohn, 73. 

Miracles and the miraculous, 65 ff., 
147-8 ; the miracles of Jesus, 176, 

Mohammed, 67. (See Islam.) 

Music, analogy of, with the numin 
ous , 49 ff., 72, 75, 76, 155. 

Mysticism, what it is, 21 ff., 88 n., 
199, 202; of void and nothingness, 
20, 29, 30, 93 ; in Luther, 107 ff., 


Nirvana, 39, 170. 


Occasionalists, the, 93. 
Orenda, 125. 


Paracelsus, 111. 

Parker, Theodore, 55 n. 

Passion, the, 88, 176. 

Paul, St., 37, 88 ff., 139, 167, 172, 205, 
212, 229, 230, 232. 

Persia, religion of, 170. 

Personal, the, and the supra-per 
sonal. 201-8. 

Peter, St., 230. 

Pharisaism, 86. 

Plato, 97, 98, 141. 

Plotinus, 97, 211. 

Pordage, Johann, llln. 

Predestination, doctrine of, in St. 
Paul, 90 ff.; in Luther, 105; in 
Islam, 92 ff. 

Primitive Monotheism, 133 ff. 


Quakers, the, 142 n., 216 ff. 




Raphael, 64. 

Reeejae, 23. 

Redemption, doctrine of, 65, 168 ff. 

Resurrection, 2L6 11. 

Rig-Veda, the, 13o. 

Ritschl, 19, 66, 95. 

Ruskin, 221. 


Schematization , 46 ff., 144 ff. 

Schiller,112n.; (quoted), 65,132, 152. 

Schleiermacher, on feeling of abso 
lute dependence , 9, 10, 20, 21, 
112; on divination and intui 
tion , 150-4, 158 ff., 221 ; 36, 91, 
1G4, 208 n. 

Scholasticism, 27. 

Schopenhauer, 24, 51. 

Shiva, 109. 

Silence, numinous value of, 70 ff., 

Soderblom, N., 15 n., 76, 195 n. 

Sophocles. 40. 

Souls and spirits, primitive belief 
in, 27, 124 ; as numinous entities, 

Spener, P. J., 108. 

Spinoza, 90. 

Spiritualism, 27 n. 

Sublime, the, and the holy, 42, 47, 

Supernatural, the conception of the, 
12-2, 148. 

Suso, 63 n., 109, 120. 

Synteresis, 142n. 


Taoism, 69, 206 n. 
Tauler, 107. 
Tenteegen, 17, 71, 183. 
Theosophy, 111. 
Theresa, St., 194 n., 211. 

Ungtheuer, 41. 



Vishnu, 65, 191 ff. 

Void , numinous significance of, 
80, 89 ; in art, 71, 72. 


Wagner, 50. 

Wellhausen, 167. 

Wordsworth, 225. 

Worringer, on Gothic, 70. 

Wrath of God, meaning of, 18-19, 
23-4, 32, 78, 99, 145 ; in St. Paul, 
88 ; in Luther, 102 ff. ; in Boehme, 

Wundt, 122. 

Yahweh, 66, 74, 76 ff., 89, 116, 205. 


Zwingli, 92. 





(English translation in preparation)